October 13, 2013, 8:40 am, Siena railway station. On platform n. 1 travelers and musicians await the arrival of the "Miss", the steam locomotive n. 640-148 that during the 30s earned this nickname for her way to slink on the Italian rail network pulling carriages and people through Val D'Orcia’s beautiful skyline.
We are here to experience the slow travel of the good old times along paths fallen into disuse, cut off from the main commercial routes but kept alive by the passion of associations and local authorities that have decided not to let these places die, because they are an environmental treasure of our landscape heritage.
So, thanks to Stefano Maggi (professor at the Siena University) and to the passion of some retired railroaders, with the support of the Province of Siena and sponsors such as Montepaschi Bank, the Association FVO - Val d'Orcia Railway has brought Trenonatura again on the rails: from the station of Siena in spring and autumn it leads many travelers along Monte Antico / Asciano rail loop, closed to the ordinary traffic since 1994 but now used to promote these lands rich in history, culture and flavors among those who wish to discover a type of tourism now almost lost.
The succulent seasonal offering has not made our choice easy, but in the end we decided to go to the Porcino Muschroom’s Festival in Vivo D' Orcia, a small town next to Mount Amiata, that in this season is filled with underbrush scents and the tireless chant of popular songs.
To get there, two hours on a "hundred doors coach", so named because each group of seats was equipped with independent access (ancient wisdom): two hours cheered up by Tuscany hills designed with cypress trees and farmhouses and the songs of musicians that filled the passengers’ hands of all types of musical instruments inviting them to join the orchestra.
The atmosphere was that of parties, an itinerant crew running towards places and times to be discovered.
At the halfway point, a stop for a snack, water supply for the “Miss” and connection rods lubrication. Then, arrived at Monte Amiata railway station, we changed means of transport (a bus) and climbed the Apennines, mounts full of citadels and flavors.
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Vivo D' Orcia was waiting for us with its medieval town still inhabited, a market of local products made from honey, mushrooms, chestnuts, figs, walnuts and cheese, a guided tour in the undergrowth to discover local mushrooms, and then a lunch where we ate each three dishes of pici (a local kind of pasta) with porcini mushrooms and zucchini.
We returned to the station with bags full of cookies, flour, mushrooms and jams, while in the valley we could still hear the echo of popular songs and the scent of roasted chestnuts roasted all day without stopping.
A triumph of taste and the little pleasures that many Italian corners are able to give, a one-day trip suitable for people of all ages and intended primarily for groups excursions’ lovers, where people chat and get easily in friendly relationship and where the pleasantness of the slow journey is filled by meeting, words and songs.