"... Castel del Piano to the beauty of the place, for the convenience of its position... it is without a doubt the first among those who stand near it. It is watered by limpid sources and surrounded by a perennial stream of water. Its name was given to it by the fertile plain it sits on, which extends about a mile with its leafy trees, sunny meadows and cultivated fields... (Pope Pius II)
I don't know how I can compete with such a beautiful description, but I'll give it a shot!
Castel del Piano sits on what can only be described as a natural paradise. Fields of chestnuts and beeches compete for you attention with rivers of spring water that ebb and flow into the catchments serving Grosseto and Siena.
Literally overrun by the vast and endless stretches of olive groves, vineyards, fruit trees and mountain forests, Castel del Piano is hard to believe. It's a town so in touch with the environment that it blends with it perfectly and seamlessly.
Although signs of a Paleolithic or Neolithic civilisation have been found in the territory, the town's most concrete roots sit firmly in the Middle Ages and the era of the Abbazia del Monte Amiata.
It was this powerful abbey that began building the churches that would soon earn Castel del Piano the nickname Città delle Chiese (City of the Churches). The town has no less than eight different places of worship from grand churches to more humble chapels and convents.
But it's not just the number of churches that inspired the nickname, it's also the beauty of these buildings. They are among the most striking and lovingly preserved churches in the Maremma, carefully looked after by the locals as reminders of their past and stalwarts of their devotion.
Don't let the pretty face and steadfast appreciation for religion fool you though! Castel del Piano has a wild side too- it's home to the Maremma's biggest palio, a palio that rivals the one held in Siena. Known as the Palio delle Contrade, this fast and dangerous horse race is held in honour of the Madonna delle Grazie and sees the four districts of Castel del Piano - Borgo, Storte, Monumento and Poggio - compete to win some highly coveted prizes.