The Sienese Clay Hills are found to the south-east of Siena. This hilly, clay area - sometimes referred to as 'the Tuscan desert' - forms part of the municipalities of Asciano, Buonconvento, Monteroni d'Arbia, Rapolano Terme e S.Giovanni d'Asso.Until 2.5 millions years ago the area was under the sea. When the water receded, irregular sediments of clay and sand,containing fossils emerged. The slow erosion process generated many coves called 'calanchi' or 'biancone' and small dome-shaped hills with a peculiar light colour. The ground has amazing colours and is so maleable that anyone passing over it leaves tracks. Livestock paths, numerous vineyards, olive-groves, truffle-grounds, and lush forests with oaks, ilexes, broom and hawthorn can be seen here...Travelling along the rural dirt roads,often located on hill ridges, seems like sailing among waves of earth and, when overlooked by an open sky and pushed by the wind, one feels very small.
This land is crossed by the ancient Via Cassia road and is part of the Francigena pilgrims route. It is rich with old parish-churches, abbeys, and ancient farmhouses and thermal springs, as well as travertine quarries which gave birth to the famous local handicrafts.Due to their peculiar landscape and the abundance of artistic and historical references, the Sienese Clay Hills are among the most famous and photographed environments in Italy. Set between the hills, the fields of grain and the cypress trees, the Clay Hills are a countryside heritage protected by UNESCO. Here mass tourism doesn't exist, it would be destructive and would devastate the intimacy and harmony eminating from these hills. In recent yeats efforts havebeen made to renovate local farmhouses and restart crop cultivation, which was abandoned in the '60s and '70s following industrial development. These rural smallholdings live again and often offer hospitality to tourists from all over the world as farm-holiday property and locations.
PODERE CUNINA in BUONCONVENTO is also a farm-holiday location within this system of architectural and landscape recovery that fully respects its environment. Traditional materials typical of the area, sourced via accurate and detailed research, were used for the renovation. Located inside a large nature reserve, with many small and medium-sized woodland animals, it offers 7 finely-renovated flats to tourists, with views of Montalcino, Mount Amiata and the hills of Buonconvento and Siena. It is equipped throughout with quality, antique furniture, fitted with all modern comforts, with maximum level certification regarding safety and energy saving (underfloor heating via geothermal system, thermal insulation, pool). Again in the light of environmental recovery, we have restarted working the soil by restoring a small existing olive-grove and creating a new one with about 800 plants of the species Frantoio, Leccino, Moraiolo, and Pendolino. The agricultural production of this small farm is the biological Pure Olive Oil ('extravirgin') from the Sienese Clay Hills, honey and saffron.