Chianciano is a small town in the rolling coutryside of south-east Tuscany. It is divided into a medieval town of narrow streets surrounded by ancient walls and a modern part, which extends to the periphery of the town and the spa area.
Explore Chianciano Terme
Chianciano old town is on a hill. Enter the centre through the renaissance style 'Porta Rivellini' to reach the Piazza Matteotti, a square which is bordered by aristocratic palaces and also the Town Hall, with a square in which a hexagonal 18th century fountain can be seen. To the left of Piazza Matteotti you can see the Castle of the Manenti, characterized by its typical medieval towers.
From the artistic point of view, Chianciano offers not only ancient Etruscan and Roman artifacts, such as walls, medieval towers and artefacts that can be seen in the local Etruscan Museum, but also interesting works of art preserved in its churches.
Collegiale Church of Chianciano and the Museum of Sacred Art
In the old town the Collegiate Church of Chianciano dates from the 13th century. Originally built in Romanesque style it was later restored in the Neoclassical style in 1809 by Luigi Vegni (1765-1823), with a portal featuring spiral columns. The interior of the church holds works of art of great interest, especially by artists of the Sienese school such as the Saint John the Baptist, a painting attributed to Barna da Siena* and a "Nativity", a fresco by Francesco Rustici*.
The ancient painters of Siena had a significant growth in popularity in the late 19th century, culminating in an exhibition that was held in Siena and London. Among the artists of note we should mention Lippo Memmi (1291-1356), Simone Martini’s [1284-1344] collaborator, Bartolo di Fredi (active between 1353 and 1397) and Barna da Siena, considered one of the best Sienese artists, active in the last part of the 14th century and probably the most important painter of the time, even if the author remains unknown.
Many art works that were originally in this church are now on display in the Museum of Sacred Art of the Collegiate in the Palazzo dell'Arcipretura, a historical building used in part as a museum. These include 'Madonna and Child with St. Michael, John the Baptist and St. Bartholomew' by Barna da Siena (probably). There is also a beautiful stained glass window depicting 'St. John the Baptist', probably by the Sienese School of Guidozzo Cozzarelli*.
In the Museum of Sacred Art we can also see works by Sodoma* and by the so-called "Maestro di Chianciano," who takes his name from the polyptych in the museum. Also noteworthy is the wooden crucifix attributed to the school of Duccio.
Other notable sights in Chianciano
Among the other religious buildings in the town is the Church of the Madonna della Rosa, built in 1585 by Baldassarre Lanci (1510-71) with a Greek cross plan and inspired by Renaissance models.
The Oratory is located outside the City Gate, in the district of Chianciano called "Dell'Incarcere" (so called because in ancient times there was a Church of Santa Maria in Carcere here). The church was later called "Our Lady of the Rose" because of the subject of the fresco (by the Sienese School) at the center of the main altar, which depicts Our Lady offering a white rose to the Child.
The decoration of the church was continued with some works by local painter L. Massimiliano De Vegni, born in 1731 in Chianciano and Giovanni Battista Marchetti (1730-1800).
Chianciano: not just history and art
As well as art and history a visitor to Chianciano also has the opportunity to revitalize with the waters of Chianciano - the town is also referred to as Chianciano Terme because of these (terme = thermal baths). The Baths are surrounded by large green areas equipped with sports facilities and rich vegetation, gardens and waters. The “Acqua Santa” and “Fucoli” Park is a remarkable complex which will be appreciated by both athletes and nature lovers.
Visitors will also appreciate the so-called "Pici", a typical pasta of the Siena region, and in particular of Chianciano, in the shape of spaghetti. Visitors can also become acquainted with other local specialties such as the "Bruschetta", the "bread soup", the "Panzanella", a typical summer sweet, and the famous "Torta di Chianciano", a local cake made using a secret recipe.
Of course while at Chianciano you must also sample the excellent local wine, just to see if Francesco Redi [1626-1697, poet, scientist and pupil of Galilei and author of "Bacchus in Tuscany"], was right when he said that 'Montepulciano d'ogni vino è il re' [trans: "Montepulciano is the king of all the wines"].
Map of Chianciano sightseeing & popular sights
Selected places to visit near Chianciano, Italy
See the Tuscany guide for more travel ideas...