Celle sul Rigo is a medieval village, that sits in the Valdichiana hills of southern Tuscany, and borders the Umbria and Lazio regions of Italy.
This gorgeous village is located on a hilltop with views that extend to the town of Radiocofani and its Fortress to the north, and San Casciano to the east.
If you are in Rome or Florence, this is a perfect base to experience Val D’Orcia, one of Tuscany’s most beautiful back drops.
Here you can expect the type of views you see in the movies, except it’s real.
Celle Sul Rigo in San Casciano dei Bagni
So why Celle Sul Rigo, I hear you say? A friend of mine has an old family home, she often uses to get away from the hustle and bustle of Rome and to get some good quality relax time.
Marianna, a very good friend of Tourist by Chance, invited me to go along to her beautiful village for 3 days so I could see first hand why she tries to get here at least 3-4 times a year.
Our 3 day ‘menu’ included discovering nearby Val D’Orcia, baths in hot springs (up to 45 degrees!!), a Teatro Povero show (local theatre), 12km hikes, Chianti and Orcia wines, Pici pasta and a sense of serenity that I had not felt in a very long time. Yes, you can say it was an amazing experience and one I plan to repeat as much as I can!
Celle Sul Rigo | A Brief Description
The existence of a church dedicated to the conversion of Sao Paulo is attested in the “Rationes Decimarum” of 1275-1277 and documented on the statutes of the Celle community of 1471.
The origin of this castle is unknown but the name seems to derive from the sacred cells or cellars, that lie below the village. Hollow in the tuff, used as shelters in war time during the bombing, are today used in some cases as wine cellars.
The first documents attesting to the existence of Celle are of the thirteenth century in acts relating to disputes between the municipalities of Siena and Orvieto for the possession of castles in Southeast of Mount Amiata.
Due to its location, in the Middle Ages between Orvieto and Siena and, in the modern age, between the Pontifical State and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, justifies the interest that it has always evoked in ancient times. It has also been an important stop point on the Via Francigena (an ancient road and pilgrim route running from France to Rome).
In the town of San Casciano dei Bagni, approximately a 6km drive from Celle Sul Rigo, you will find ‘free baths’ and where you will find the “Bagno Grande” (great bath).
It is easily reachable by foot from the main square of San Casciano, passing by peaceful woods equipped with an hike path for fitness lovers.
These Baths are absolutely enchanting and their thermal waters, referred to by the locals as “vasconi”, are now open for everybody to enjoy the therapeutical properties of its springs.
Don’t want to dip in hot baths during the summer? No problem! You can have a dip even in winter, thanks to its warm temperatures, of about 35°-45° centigrade. There are 3 pools of varying temperatures. Try them all until you find the temperature right for you.
I would also suggest an afternoon drive to Radicofani, Pienza, Montalcino and Monticchiello, as here you will find some extraordinary views, that only Tuscany can provide.
I also took a dip in the Thermal spas of Bagno Vignoni at 8pm, which is a popular tourist destination but worth the visit when staying in Celle Sul Rigo or surroundings.
Celle Sul Rigo & Il Gioco del Cacio
In mid-August (this year it was on 13 August) the inhabitants of Celle Sul Rigo (all 400 of them!) and surrounding towns come together to take part in the Gioco del Cacio.
How it works.
Four Sestieri take part in the Gioco del Cacio. The game is almost trivial: Players start at a specific point in the Piazza, with a cheese round in hand.
They must then launch it as far as possibile. This continues until you have completed a circle around the village center, with the scope to get to the main Piazza again, launching the cheese as few times as possible. It looks easy, but experience at this game is a key factor.
You could say it is a game of bocce but with a round of cheese, rather than the bocce balls.
I put together a little video with the highlights of this particular and fun event, that brought the whole community together.
At the end of the games, the festivities ensue, as food stalls and tables are put out by the local council, and live music is played in various spots around the village.
A must try!
Food and Wine
Being in Tuscany and in particular in the Province of Siena, the Primo (First course) you must try are Pici pasta.
You can have this pasta with a wild boar ragù or all’aglione (tomato and garlic sauce).
Regardless of your tastes, you have to try a plate of Pici.
For your Secondo (second course) you must try a Bistecca Fiorentina, usually 1-1.5km in weight, it is best appreciated amongst 2-3 people due to its size.
La Bistecca Fiorentina, is traditionally served blue rare or rare and it is an insult to ask for it cooked well done or even medium.
I had a chef refuse to cook me the steak because I asked for it medium rare.
Of course, you must not forget to try the various types of local cold cuts and cheeses (accompanied by some mouth watering cheese marmalades), as they are absolutely delicious.
Try the Mortadella or Salame di Cinta Senese. While this part of Italy is a meat-lovers paradise, the locals do offer some great vegetarian dishes (normally pasta’s).
Due to these hearty meals you will want to pair them all with a red Vino della Casa (normally a local Chianti – make sure to look out for il Gallo Nero on your Chianti bottles – these are the real thing!) or a Orcia Doc (I mean when in Rome drink as the Romans).
Tourist by Chance Map of 3 days in Celle Sul Rigo
To help you on your trip to Celle Sul Rigo, I have created a Google map with the various stops I took on my 3 day relaxing tour (it also includes the hike trail from San Casciano dei Bagni to Castello di Fighine (approx. 12km hike).
Want to know more about the various baths of the area or other places I have visited in Tuscany? Let Tourist by Chance help you!
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I am always happy to help Italy lovers discover Il Bel Paese through the lens of a local.