Cookie disclaimer

Our site saves small pieces of text information (cookies) on your device in order to deliver better content and for statistical purposes. You can disable the usage of cookies by changing the settings of your browser. By browsing our website without changing the browser settings you grant us permission to store that information on your device. I agree

The Grand Duke’s journey

Leopold II of Habsburg-Lorraine was the first king to abolish the death penalty and he also implemented a far-reaching administrative reform. He abolished a large number of state-owned lands and unified the Grand Duchy which remained the result of two distinct states (the “new” Siena state and the Florence state). This modern layout called for efficiency and control over the territory. The Grand Duke did not leave anything to chance. In addition to having informants in every corner, he often toured the Val di Chiana to check the progress of production, maintenance of the farms and to enjoy carriage rides along the avenues lined with mulberry bushes that marked the boundaries of the agricultural land. All the villages were built above the water line at 300 metres, compared to the immense marsh of the Chiana that Leopold II helped to reclaim. The entrance to the valley was located along what can be considered one of the streams key to the reclamation work, the Foenna, near Rigomango, then it headed towards Farnetella, Sinalunga, Bettolle and Torrita di Siena, the castle that has an association to it in its name. The next stop was Trequanda, then Castelmuzio, Petroio as far as Pienza. From nearby Monticchiello it passed the grange in Spedaletto and then, reached Montepulciano Chianciano (Clancianum, namely this side of the Chiane), the castle which became an important thermal resort Chiusi (Clamars, then Clusium, i.e. embankment between the marshes). This was one of the most important Etruscan cities, which has lost its prestige but not before being linked with famous figures such as the jurist Gratian, the “father” of canon law and St Mustiola. Sarteano (from the Latin Sertorios or Sarturius) and Cetona (Cis-Tuniam, on this side of the river today called Paglia) lie two castles historically fought over by Orvieto and Siena, with imposing fortresses that can still be clearly seen. San Casciano dei Bagni it is the last centre on the itinerary, which rewards the traveller with its sophisticated thermal baths. Famous figures are also associated with these towns. 152 km in all to cover by car or bicycle, perhaps following the paths and secondary roads. 

Share your story on social media