The stone hamlet of Cinigiano crowns one of the rolling hills of the Maremma area of Tuscany. This unspoiled part of the famed region enjoys an enviable position between the mountains and the sea; it is bordered by Monte Amiata on the east and the coastline of the Mediterranean on the west. There are squares of olive groves, ordered rows of vineyards and billowing grain fields, punctuated by stands of cypress tress and ancient hilltop villages.
The Maremma is known for its still-wild landscapes where genuine working cowboys still ride the plains and tend their herds. There are several nature parks and wildlife preserves here, and a great emphasis is placed on outdoors activities. The community center organizes an annual Bike and Wine each may, a biking tour through the hills and woods, passing through vineyards and stopping to taste some of the wine along the way. Get a winery map from the Wine Roads office in the piazza.
CInigiano grew up around a 12th century castle. It was a holding of the Aldobrandeschi family and subject to the city-state of Siena. The lords of that city exercised strict control and local loyalty was less than sincere. They rebelled in the 1400s. Evenutally the town was passed to nearby Grosseto, until it was annexed by the Kingdom of Italy in 1859. A Sienese-style clock towers rises from the piazza. It is a tidy, compact town that offers all the basic necessities, including a grocer, a bakery and some coffee bars, along with several restaurants. There is a weekly market every Tuesday morning.
The two main churches - San Michele Arcangelo, which dates from the 16th century, and Santa Maria delle Nevi (Saint Mary of the Snows), both contain frescoes. Cinigiano is in the Maremma wine country and celebrates that with an annual event called Calici di Stelle (goblet of stars) where the town's traditional cantinas that are made of stone are opened for wine tasting. It's held on the night of San Lorenzo (August 10) which is noted as the night of the falling stars. There is also an annual harvest festival dedicated to the fruit of the vine, the Festa dell'Uva, held each autumn. Not far away near Manciano is the internationally-noted winery, Tenuta Marsiliana, which is worth a visit.
Cinigiano is not far from the pristine coast, which is protected by parks and left its in natural state. The beautiful Val d'Orcia, famous Montalcino, and splendid Siena are in easy reach, as are Pienza, Montepuliciano, San Gimignano and the famous Abbey of Sant'Antimo. You can take a ferry to the Island of Elba or Giglio, and the hot springs of Saturnia are nearby, as well.
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If you want a place where you can go back to simpler times and relax, breathe in the fresh air of nature while enjoying the ambiance of a medieval hill town, this town is for you.
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