I grew up in the Val d'Orcia valley in Tuscany, but left my stomping grounds years ago when I moved to London. Following the old Cassia road south from Siena, the area is peppered with small medieval towns. Their rich history, art and architecture date back to the middle ages. San Gimignano and Pienza are just a couple of the gems that are a must visit on this route.
Sheltered by the Apennines to the east and the inactive volcano Monte Amiata to the south, the area has a unique microclimate with mild winters and hot dry summers. This balanced climate is ideal for winemaking and the region boasts two of the most renowned Italian wines: the Nobile from Montepulciano and the Brunello from Montalcino. The undulating hills not covered by vineyards are the real stars of the show though. Soft and poetic, they look their best at sunrise and sunset. It's worth leaving the main roads and getting lost among them to really take it all in.
Some mornings, during the first months of the year, the fog doesn't rise and it covers the entire valley so only small towns, like Montalcino, sit above a sea of clouds. I was lucky enough to wake up to such a spectacle on a visit home. With a 35mm camera and a roll of film I spent a few hours immersed in this landscape.
It's breathtaking, calm and fresh. A simple beauty that never gets old.