Buonconvento, only a few kilometres from Siena, is one of the most beautiful villages in the whole of Italy according to ANCI classification. Enclosed within a city wall built in 1379, the medieval village originally only had two entrances at opposite ends of the main street: towards the north is Porta Senese, where the original wooden doors and windows with metal fittings remain, and towards the south Porta Romana, which was destroyed in 1944 by the retreating Germans.
Via Soccini runs right through the historic centre, and was named in memory of the ancient family whose members included illustrious jurists, as well as a couple of heretics who organised various doctrinal Socinianism movements that developed during the sixteenth century.
Buonconvento is home to two fascinating museums: the Mezzadria Senese, which focuses on the rural world of the countryside as it was until the 1970s, and the Val d'Arbia Museum of Sacred Art, which collects Sienese masterpieces ranging from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century.
The Church of San Pietro and San Paolo is also worth a visit, where - according to historical sources - the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Arrigo VII, died in 1313. The church, however, is much older; on the left side of the façade a marble stone is engraved with the date 1103, which could be referring to its foundation. Inside there are some Sienese paintings (all from the fifteenth century), including a painted panel depicting the Madonna with Child by Matteo di Giovanni; a panel by Pietro di Francesco Orioli; and a fresco by Sano di Pietro depicting the Madonna’s coronation.
There are numerous old fortifications and interesting pieces of architecture, such as Bibbiano Castle and Tancredi Castle, which are only a few kilometres from the town. If you’re looking to treat yourself to a few hours of self-care and relaxation, Rapolano Terme is about 30 kilometres from Buonconvento and has two thermal springs: the Antica Querciolaia and the Terme di San Giovanni.
The southern stretch of the Tuscan Via Francigena crosses Buonconvento, on the route that goes from Ponte d'Arbia to San Quirico d'Orcia (stage 35). This is ideal for those who would like to venture out on long walks or bike rides between the Terre di Siena and the Val d'Orcia.
Each spring, Buonconvento hosts Nova Eroica, the amateur cycling event that mainly takes place on dirt roads; there are routes for absolutely everyone, including families and children. On the third and fourth weekends of September the Val D'Arbia Festival takes place, with shows, sporting events, concerts, markets, exhibitions and traditional dish tasting.
Buonconvento’s traditional dishes include panzanella (a salad of stale bread, onion and tomatoes), pappa al pomodoro (a thick bread soup), pici con le criciole (pasta with breadcrumbs) and pappardelle sulla lepre (pappardelle with hare ragù). The Chianina beef is also excellent, as are the dishes made with the Crete Senesi white truffle.
The DOC-certified wines, in particular the white wines of Val d'Arbia (as well as the white wines of Vinsanto) and the red and white Orcia, are also unmissable