Seggiano is town passionate about its olives. Sitting high in the Val d'Orcia, it is surrounded by a rugged mountain landscape that is so apt at growing olives that it gave its name to its own variety known as the olivastra seggionese.
This variety is grown by farmers across the countryside and by locals in their private gardens, and it makes the best olive oil I have ever tasted!
The sight of rows and rows of olive groves encircling Seggiano is so beautiful that 18th century poet Giorgio Santi immortalized it in this romantic prose: "La collina è guarnita di belli uliveti, che nutrono olivi di vecchiezza e grandezza straordinaria" (The hill is topped by beautiful olive groves, which give life to old and extraordinary-sized olives).
With such enthusiasm for Mother Nature's bounty comes a great love of food, and the Seggionese love their food more than anyone else in the Maremma. They're also renowned for some incredible dishes including 'pollo in scottiglia', a beautiful chicken dish with a thick tomato sauce and 'tacchino con le castagne' - turkey braised with roasted chestnuts and wine. And, trust me, they are as mouthwatering as they sound!
But Seggiano isn't just about food. Sure tourists will be hard pressed to taste better traditional fare elsewhere, but there's plenty to do and see here in between meals too.
With more than 11 centuries under its belt, Seggiano complements its tranquil and lush countryside with a wealth of impressive military and religious buildings that have survived the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, two world wars, and an endless array of different-minded leaders and dictators.
When not admiring the exquisite and understated beauty of Seggiano's churches and monuments, most take to the kilometres of walking and biking tracks that wind around the countryside and up into the surrounding mountains.
Photos: Paolo Fefe and Salvatore Barbera via Flickr.