No Parking Picnic Castle

October 1, 2014 / Places

Actually, it’s called Castelluccio (little castle), not that No Parking Picnic Castle is much more original, granted. Yet, that’s the name we gave it due to the quantity of “No Parking” signs everywhere. Good thing those, as they forced you to park out of sight around the corner. Thus improving the “Picnic”, added to the name simply because everyone was feeling quite peckish by that point in our day’s drive, and so picnic we did.


And good thing we did! Learned quite a bit (post-picnic of course, priorities being what they were) as we stretched our legs and admired the castle. As of the 20th century, it has been part of the La Foce / Origo holdings and one of many examples of their incredible life-long and ongoing Val d’Orcia restoration and improvement projects. (In fact, it is just 5 minutes from La Foce along the strada bianca – gravel road – shortcut that leads to Montichiello/Montepulciano.)


At different times from the 13th to the 19th centuries however, it belonged to Siena, and to a powerful religious “ospedale”, and to various noble families. And like any self-respecting Italian medieval-Renaissance-and-beyond castle, it saw all sorts of dramatic history involving dead husbands and spurned dukes, meek second husbands and pushy mother-in-laws, captains of the guard, poisons, daggers, betrayals and beheadings.


Verrryyyy quiet nowadays (at least from the outside, it’s private property so we did not venture inside). The only excitement was the arrival of one of the guides at La Foce (who lives in the castle) with a litter of newborn kittens she had found in a dumpster. (Her blatant violation of the No Parking rules were obviously waived given her heroic rescue of the furballs.) We almost left with a couple of them ourselves.


Fact is, neither Castelluccio nor No Parking Picnic Castle do it any justice. What really stays with you if you happen upon this spot are the truly incredible views.




by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

16 Responses to “No Parking Picnic Castle”

  1. Funny and also lovely, GB. The no parking signs, the winding road, the kittens, the stone walls, the red flowers. Do you know what kind of flowers they are? I’m curious.

      • Thank you, Linda! I suppose it’s a good thing I don’t have them here…but they sure are lovely.

  2. When I see your name, GB, as the author of the daily offerings of the Notebook, it never fails to bring a smile to my face! And I loved your NPPC! My kind of place! Those views were astounding. But, I have to admit that I would have at least tip toed thro that inviting doorway to take a quick peek around to see what was inside! Thanks, GB, for one more addition to the Italian Bucket List. xoxo Joy

  3. Camille

    Read Iris Origo’s War in the Val D’Orcia for more about this locale. A great book.

  4. Candace Utroska

    This article is just like the movie we saw last night “The Trip to Italy” with actor Steve Coogan. Real life keeps popping up in the middle of the idealized and romanticized travel experience…..which can make it even more real and enriching…or not. Great article, GB.. Candy Utroska

  5. Stefano

    It would seem from the posted signs the primary no parking violators are those that speak or comprehend English.

  6. Patricia Welch

    So glad you posted this. I will be sure to visit my next time there. I read “War in the Val D’Orcia” by Iris Origo and absolutely loved it. She is my heroine!

    • I agree, just read War in Val D’Orcia this summer. Amazing bravery by Iris and Antonio and the farmworkers. Look forward to a visit to La Foce someday.

  7. I agree with “Camille.” Mrs. Origo’s book, War in Val d’Orcia, is a wonderful account of what it was like to live in this part of Tuscany during the occupation by German forces (after Italy surrendered to Allied Forces) and the eventual liberation. It was a very difficult time lived with grace and generosity.

  8. A really interesting post,thank you.

    Can you please explain what is meant by ospedale in the context of this term: a powerful religious “ospedale”?

  9. Sara (Sally) Debono

    I am almost certain the beautiful flowers are oleander bushes. These sometimes grow to the size of small trees–prevalent in the Mediterranean. I have seen in Greece and very recently, in abundance, in Malta. Loved the piece, G.B. I’m ready to go!


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