According to Wikipedia Rocca d’Orcia (also called Rocca a Tentennano or Rocca di Tintinnano) is a hamlet of the Town of Castiglione D’Orcia, in the province of Siena, with an altitude of 511 metres above sea level, with 34 inhabitants in 2011. It wasn’t so depopulated once, around the year 1100-1200 when the Fortress which dominated the village, owned by the Aldobrandeschi family (Gregory VII was an Aldobrandeschi), was the checkpoint and observation point for anyone passing through the via Francigena which crossed the Val d’Orcia.
In 1320 this village, and precisely the Fortress that housed it, was visited by Saint Catherine of Siena, while she was still illiterate. When she left, about three months later, she had received the gift of writing. Muzio Attendolo Sforza and the Barbarossa and Salimbeni families also spent time here.
I could go on describing the charm and details of historical events, the ancient trades and the exquisite arts which trickle at every corner or road in the village. I will let the desire to visit Rocca d’Orcia take hold of you while you are reading this article, as well as after what I am about to tell you.
In the last century, during the 60’s, Rocca d’Orcia still had a population of about 500 inhabitants, which later on became no more than one hundred due to emigration towards Castiglione d’Orcia or towards more productive cities. All you need to know is that the last shop was closed at the end of the 70’s.
Well, a miracle gradually took place from that dark period up to our days. The village has slowly come alive again, not because it has become repopulated, but rather because it is visited and crowded by tourists and lovers of healthy living.
Thanks to an entrepreneur who purchased three hundred hectares of land and planted biodynamic crops, which range from vineyards to olive trees, fruit trees, vegetables and beehives, there are a great number of flourishing attractions all around the farm. The entrepreneur himself thought it was a good idea to open up a restaurant, the Osteria Perillà, which is the gastronomic heart of the village and what’s more it is led by an outstanding chef, Marcello Corrado. In fact, the Osteria Perillà has a Michelin star.
So what happened was that tourism made the remaining residents themselves entrepreneurs who rent out their own homes, at affordable prices, to large numbers of visitors.
You can also spend the night at the Hotel Restaurant La Cisterna del Borgo which, in addition to a menu which follows the more traditional Tuscan cuisine, offers very cosy double rooms inspired by the 18th, 19th and 20th century, with terracotta floors and wooden exposed beams. There are only three of them!!! It is located right in the centre of the village, in the square occupied by an ancient cistern.
What else can I say? Nothing more than invite you to visit a place that is still unknown to you but where you will surely come back.
Post author: Massimo De Fusco