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SURROUNDINGS ( The most important towns )

MONTEPULCIANO
This is the largest Comune in the Sienese Valdichiana and contains six other villages: Abbadia di Montepulciano, Acquaviva, Gracciano, Montepulciano Stazione, S.Albino and Valiano. The poet Agnolo Ambrogini (known as "il Poliziano" from the Latin "mons Politianus") was born here. The town is said to have been founded by the Etruscan king Porsenna and exhibits impressive architecture, mainly but not only Renaissance. Michelozzo, Baldassarre Peruzzi and Vignola all worked here,

as did Antonio da Sangallo il Vecchio who designed the temple of San Biagio. Apart from the wonders of the historical centre of Montepulciano the tourist would do well to visit the spa centre at S.Albino. The local economy is based on agriculture and the town is famous for its Vino Nobile. In th summer the town hosts the "Cantiere Internazionale d'arte" and in the mid-Augut holidays the "Bruscello", a traditional show spoken in rhyme, is performed on the Cathedral steps. On August 29 a wine barrel race, the "Bravýo", is run between the different contrade, or districts, of the town and there is a procession in 13th-century dress.






CHIANCIANO TERME

This spa town, which specialises in the treatment of liver disorders, is among the most famous in Italy. The special properties of the waters of Chianciano is not far from the spa centre with its hotels, shops, treatment centres and elegant parks where the therapeutic waters emerge: "acqua Sillene" is used for balnotherapy and mud-bath treatment; acqua Sant'Elena" used for the treatment of the kidneys and urinary disorders. Both the climate and the unspoilt green areas are excellentr, holidays here are fulfilling and pleasant and dedicated to health and fitness. More than 2 million people visit Chianciano every year. Cultural attractions include the Museo Etrusco, soon to be opened, and the Museo della Collegiata.

Also to be seen are the collegiate church of S.Giovanni Battista, built in 1229 and restored in 1809, the church of the Compagnia (1517), the Torre dell'Orologio with Medici crest and the church of Madonna della Rosa (1585) designed by B. Lanci.





CETONA

On the eastern slopes of the mountain bearing the same name, Cetona has retained its medieval structure, whith roads, alleys and stairways all leading to the fortress which dominates it. The local economy is mainly agricultural, but tourism as also been actively developed. Many famous people from the words of economics, theatre, fashion and culture live here in their renovated country homes and villas. Whitin only 5 km of the town can be found one of the oldest settlements in central Italy, dating back 40.000 years, and today known as the Parco archeologico naturalistico di Belverde.

There are 25 prehistoric caves and the largest of these Saint Francis prayed. The Museo Civico contains remains from the bronze age collected from the area around the caves. In the next village, piazze, the romanic Collegiate church contains frescos by Pinturicchio.








CHIUSI

In Etruscan times, on the southern edge of the Valdichiana, stood the town of Chamars, powerful enough, in that period, to defeat Rome. In the historical centre, with its medieval architecture as well as styles of the granduchy, remains of the Roman structure can still be seen which were built on top of yhe pre-existing etruscan town. The Museo archeologico nazionale contains excellent Etruscan finds and Greek ceramics from the contryside around Chiusi; the funeral urns and sarcophagi are particularly interesting. It is possible to visit the catacombs and Etruscan necropolises;

the tomba del Leone (6th century b.C.) and the tomba della Pellegrina (5th century b.C.) are open. Definitely worth visiting are the Museo della Cattedrale and the "labirinto di Porsenna", underground water passages built by the Etruscan and including a large cistern which leads to the romanic cathedral bell tower. There are four neighbouring localities: Macciano, Montallese, Montevenere and Querce al Pino. Festivals: The festival of Santa Mustiola with its palio delle Torri and the September wine festival.






PIENZA

The town stands on the top of a hill which overlooks the splendid Val d'Orcia. Enea Silvio Piccolomini was born here in 1405 and when he became pope Pius II in 1458 he decided to transform his modest village into the perfect town, an admirable example of the humanistic period, and entrusted the design to Bernardo Rossellino. Piazza Pio II is intact, incorporanting the most rigorous of Renaissance perspective, and containing the cathedral and Palazzo Piccolomini.

The town's main axis is corso Rossellino, lined with houses built by the nobility in the 14th century. Pienza is a mainly agricultural centre, particularly famous for its pecorino cheese. The traditional cheese show, "fiera del cacio" takes place on the first Sunday in September. The flower show "Pienza e i fiori" takes place in mid May. Also to be visited is Monticchiello, made famous by its "Teatro povero", a new play anacted each summer by the local inhabitants.






SAN CASCIANO DEI BAGNI

The main feature of this medieval town, which stands on the Sienese border between the regions of Umbria and Lazio, is its wealth of hot spring water, numbering as many as 42 springs. The waters here were already known in Roman times (Oratius alludes to their therapeutic qualities). The main economic activity is related to hot springwater tourism and to "agritourism" which thrives thanks to the unspoilt woods and countryside. Today, a new building stands next to the former spa centre where it is possible to have a variety of mud and water treatments. In the near vicinity the swimming pool is filled with hot spring water at 40░C.

It is worth visiting the fairy-tale castle of Fighine. Traditional festivals include: the "Sagra dei Pici" - a homemade pasta speciality - in Celle sul Rigo, a village built on the site of a former fortress. The festival is held on the last Sunday in May. In San Casciano the "Sagra del Ciaffagnone" takes place on the first Sunday in June. The other frazione of Palazzone is wellknows for its wine festival and its strong Chianti Colli Senesi wine.






SARTEANO

A centre of ancient origins with a rich variety of tourists attractions and a particularly mild and pleasant climate which enhances the variety of springwater related activities. the old town, which dates back to the Neolithic age, is dominated by the Castle. Every year on August 15th the "Giostra del Saracino" is contested, a challenge on horseback between the five contrade or districts of the town and in which participants, using a lance, must catch a ring worn by a Saracen - the eternal enemy. The contest is preceded by the drawing of lots. Traditional dress is a feature of the event.

Also worth a visit is Castiglioncello del Trinoro, a typical medieval village with a wonderful view of the valley below. Close to Sarteano, on the hill of Pietraporciana, a protected beech-wood has proved to be of special interest to the Italian botanical society. It is pleasant to eat out here in the picnic area provided.







SINALUNGA

Until 1864 the town was known as Asinalunga (long donkey) as is almost certainly of Etruscan origin. Traditionally an agricultural centre, the town today also has some industry: brickworks, pottery, furniture manifacture, light engineering and glass. The comune includes the villages of Rigaiolo, Scrofiano, Bettolle, Farnetella, Guazzino, and Rigomagno. Its numerous remains and finds also make it attractive to tourists. In the oldest part of the town we can still see the line of the medieval walls, of which some towers still remain. In the collegiate church there is a "deposition" by Girolamo del Pacchia and paintings by Benvenuto di Giovanni and Sodoma.

Famous people born here include Giuseppe Stocchi, great writer, historian and man of letters, the zoologist Ezio Marchi (1869-1908), the musician Ciro Pinsuti (1828-1888), pupil of Rossini, author of the novel "Il mercante di Venezia". In 1867, in palazzo Agnolucci, Giuseppe Garibaldi was arrested by the army to prevent him from marching on Rome.






TORRITA DI SIENA

Located in the centre of the Valdichiana, Torrita has transformed its traditional agricultural economy into on of light industry and crafts. The earliest historical records date back to 1037. The town subsequently became a fortress defending the Republic of Siena along its southern borders. Remains of the original walls include nine foundations and three doors. THe churches of S.Flora and S.Lucilla contain frescos and other valuable artistic works from the Sienese school. Here was born the famous highwayman Ghino di Tacco dei Monaceschi Pecorai and the Franciscan monk Iacopo da Torrita the restorer of mosaics.
The donkey race "Palio dei Somari", takes place in March. Apart from the town itself, composed of the historical centre and a newer development, do not miss visiting Montefollonico, a village built around a former medieval castle and having remained largely intact. The walks here are particularly enjoable.






SAN GALGANO


A trenta chilometri da Massa Marittima, superate le miniere di Boccheggiano, ormai in provincia di Siena, al di lÓ di una collina, in una vasta pianura emergono solenni e maestosi i ruderi dell'Abbazia Cistercense di San Galgano. Dell'imponente edificio, che emana un fascino impossibile da descrivere, rimane solo la struttura esterna; la chiesa, ormai completamente priva della copertura, ha per tetto le stelle. L'Abbazia, la cui costruzione inizi˛ nel 1224, raggiunse il massimo splendore nel XIII secolo, nel '400 inizi˛ la decadenza, nel '500 l'inarrestabile rovina: nel 1577 fu rinnovata ma dal 1722 rovin˛ definitivamente. Oggi Ŕ tale il suo fascino che ospita anche concerti di musica classica. Suggestivo, in primavera, l'interno della chiesa che ha per pavimento un manto di bianche margherite. Da vedere, nei pressi,"La Spada nella Roccia", all'interno della chiesa di Montesiepi.


BACK-TORNA INDIETRO

HOTEL SANGALLO - Bed & Breakfast - Via dei Fiori, 30
53045 S.Albino Montepulciano ( Siena ) - Tuscany - Italy
Tel +39 0578 799095 - Fax +39 0578 392141
For informations
write to:
info@albergosangallo.it
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