A little village in the wooded hills south of Siena, Iesa Palazzo is a step back in time. The cluster of buildings shows off rustic hand-made bricks alternating with hewn stone. It's a lived-in place where laundry flutters like flags in the breeze and flowers spill out of window boxes. The village bounced back and forth between Volterra and Siena and was under the dominion of the powerful Medici family during its history.
Iesa Palazzo is a nature-lover's mecca, as it is surrounded by three nature preserves. There are abundant hiking trails through the forests and valleys. Centuries-old castles dot the area's countryside. Slender cypress trees outline country lanes. There are old oaks and a plethora of chestnut trees. The woods yield mushrooms and truffles that can be enjoyed in the little country restaurants found sprinkled throughout the area.
The village is officially part of the town of Monticiano, a few miles north. In Monticiano there are some nice restaurants and cafes. The main church of Sant'Agostino is a Romanesque construction with the historic monastery adjacent that was once a hermitage of the Augustinian order. It preserves beautiful frescoes, especially a cycle depicting the Passion. The church of Saints Giusto and Clemente was built in the 12th century and houses some interesting sculptures and frescoes.
Just five kilometers from Monticiano is the fascinating ruined abbey of San Galgano. The roof-less Gothic shells stands silently amidst the the forest as an alluring historic relic. Inside is the fabled and legendary sword in the stone. A trail leads through the woods from Monticiano for those who prefer a nature walk to visit the ruins.
Nearby are the hot springs of Petrioli, where the thermal waters are perfect for relaxing after a day of sightseeing.
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