Traveling the ancient via Laurentana that runs from Siena to Santa Casa in Loreta, Marche means crossing through unique landscapes and discovering Asciano: a treasure chest known for centuries as the Paese del Garbo, or “Village of Courtesy,” and for its hospitality. Immerse yourself in this sea of clay; from the soft hills and scintillating biancane, dome-shaped formations known for its white colour, it's a journey that heals the soul with every step taken.
A landscape, the Crete Senesi (literally “Sienese Clays”), that’s able to change continuously: with every ray of light, season after season, there’s the illusion of having captured its essence, even if just for a moment, but whose variability, so sudden, doesn't leave you with anything else in the heart except the illusion to have captured it only for an instant.
The biggest secret treasure of this land is hidden and protected for a majority of the year, but which gifts itself generously between October and December to those who want to know it: the precious White Truffle of the Crete Senesi.Every year, during the weekend of Immaculate Conception in December, a large market exhibition in Asciano celebrates their extraordinary qualities, highlighting them with the tastes and contrasts offered by typical autumn products, entrusting the precious tubers to the expert hands of the best, award-winning chefs. Besides the white truffle, there are other top products, like oil and Pasta Asciano, produced 100% from ancient grain, which take advantage of all the qualities of the territory.
The Via Laurentana has always been a vehicle of ideas, people and goods. Important artists have traversed this road from Asciano, whose works are today conserved mostly in the Palazzo Corboli Museum, one of the most beautiful small museums in Italy, according to the Daily Telegraph.The mystery of young Raphael is hidden here. According to some academics, the artist is responsible for the magnificent self-portrait conserved in the parish Church of Sant'Ippolito, which, to an attentive visitor, is even able to reveal the signature.
Immersed in a thick, centuries-old forest, the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore dominates the characteristic landscape of badlands and typical biancane of the Crete Senesi.
In addition to the precious Cloister with frescoes by Il Sodoma and Luca Signorelli, which narrate the life of Saint Benedict, Monte Oliveto Maggiore possesses a rich library home to over 40,000 items, among which are volumes and scrolls, in great part painstakingly restored by the monks. Adjacent to the library is the pharmacy, which contains an important collection of 17th-century vases that once held herbs and spices, which are still used today for preparations and spirits.