Visit Chianciano Terme
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.
From an artistic point of view, Chianciano has not only ancient Etruscan and Roman artefacts such as walls, medieval towers and items that can be seen in the local Etruscan Museum, but also interesting works of art preserved in its churches.
Explore Chianciano Terme
Chianciano old town is on a hill. You can enter the centre through the renaissance style Porta Rivellini to reach the Piazza Matteotti, a square which is bordered by palazzos 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.
Italy This Way comment: while Chianciano was not the most exciting town we visited in this region it was a pleasant town to stroll around, with some attractive views across the Tuscan countryside.
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 the Romanesque style it was 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 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), 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 their true identity remains unknown.
Chianciano Museum of Sacred Art
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 Saint Michael, John the Baptist and Saint Bartholomew' probably by Barna da Siena. There is also a beautiful stained glass window depicting 'Saint John the Baptist', probably by the Sienese School of Guidozzo Cozzarelli*.
In the Museum of Sacred Art you 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 you can see 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 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.
We were told that until the financial crisis hit the Italian economy it was common for doctors to prescribe a couple of weeks at a spa as a cure for their patients (I know the same is true in France so can certainly believe it is also the case in Italy). However austerity in recent years has stopped the practice, and towns such as Chianciano Terme that depended on this for their economy have suffered quite a lot in recent years.
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 Terme and places to visit
Chianciano Terme places to visit
See more places nearby in the Tuscany guide