Monte Amiata dominates over the Val d'Orcia
The Amiata Mountain, an ancient volcano, dominates the landscape of southern Tuscany with its height of 1738 meters, situated between Siena and Grosseto provinces. On clear days, you can see the profile of Mount Amiata even from Siena which is about 80 km away. The road to get to Monte Amiata from the north goes through the beautiful Val d'Orcia on the ancient road to Rome called Cassia (via Cassia), so it is a real pleasure to make this journey.
Monte Amiata offers many outdoors activities that will appeal to active visitors, but it is also a great place to visit just for a short walk through the green fields in summer or spring and enjoy the view of the valley from the very top and, of course, for a lunch break with typical mountain home-style cooking! In this article, I propose several things one can do at various periods of the year, even just for a one day visit. Obviously, the area offers many things to see and do for longer stays, that is up to you!
How to get to Monte Amiata
Coming from the north through the old Cassia road (SR2), you pass by San Quirico d'Orcia and continue until you reach SP61 which you take to the right, direction of Abbadia San Salvatore. After some kilometers, you pass Terme San Filippo, a place known for its thermal baths. Just before reaching the center of the village of Abbadia San Salvatore, which is also worth visiting with its Romanesque Abbey, turn right and follow the indication "Vetta Amiata" and continue to go up on the rising, winding road between the beautiful woods. Beside the road, you can find several free picnic areas with tables and holes where you can light a fire. From Abbadia, you continue about 12 km to reach the top.
Spring and Summer: Trekking and tree climbing
It might be a great choice to visit the top of Monte Amiata during a hot summer day when the difference between the temperature in the valley and the top can vary by several degrees. Remember this when choosing your clothing and bring an extra layer, just in case. In the summer time, you can easily drive almost at the top with your car, just turn left when you arrive at the crossing about 7 kilometres after Abbadia San Salvatore. You can park your car at the end of the road near two hotels and from there you can walk up to a large iron cross that dominates the top. Catch your breath and, if you are lucky to find a clear day, you can admire the surrounding landscape at great distances. At the top, you'll also find a restaurant with an outside terrace where you can have a good grilled sausage, polenta (a type of cornmeal mush) topped with ragu meat sauce or mushrooms or a nice soup.
If you prefer adding a little more activity into your day or if you are travelling with kids, you might try tree climbing while enjoying the green fields and forests of the mountain. In that case, you have to turn right before reaching the top and drive to "Prato Macinaie". There you'll find the activity park called "Indiana Park Amiata" with climbing routes built between trees. There are four different paths with the easiest one suitable for children from about six years old and up to more difficult ones. Next to the park, you'll also find a restaurant-hotel. I recommend you check the website to check opening times before going.
Rock climbing in Amiata
For rock climbing, Amiata Mountain offers several routes in boulder, sport and traditional climbing. Grades vary from beginner to hard. The rock is well frictional trachyte with several “air pockets”. Some of the routes can be seen from the road just a few kilometres from Abbadia San Salvatore. As a “speciality”, you can find granite-like crags lines to traditional climbing.
To find the place, follow the road in the direction of the "Vetta" until you find the second and larger picnic area on the right side. Park your car there and walk a few minutes into the forest on the left side of the road. Of course, you need the necessary equipment for rock climbing and an expert climber with you!
Check this website for climbers.
Fall and Winter: Chestnuts, mushrooms and skiing
The fall is a time for chesnuts and mushrooms/truffles in the mountain. Enjoy walking in the forests and, in the Fall, picking chestnuts. Just know that the hunt and gathering of mushrooms is regulated by regional laws and you must have an authorization for which there is a fee to be paid.... so, in the end, you'll have to just treat yourself to a great lunch with already-cooked mushrooms at a local restaurant instead of picking them!
In Amiata mountain, you can find ski lifts and several slopes for skiing. It isn't certain you'll always find snow, so if you want to try skiing, you have to check the opening of the slopes beforehand. January and February are the most probable months to find snow in Amiata. You can park and take a ski lift from "Rifugio Cantore" or from "Prato Macinaie" or go directly to the top if the road is cleaned and you have winter tires. In all of these places, it is possible to rent skiing equipment or even a sled to enjoy the snow with children. Remember the temperature difference in the winter season as well: even if the weather seems very mild and sunny in the valley below, when you start climbing the road everything can change quickly and surprise you, with a mountain peak full of snow and very cold!
Check this web page with webcams for an update on the snow situation: http://www.amiataneve.it/index.php
Enjoy exploring Monte Amiata!