Sarteano, around the castle, a concentration of virtue
It is normal that Sarteano is considered, like other towns in the Val di Chiana, an ideal place in which to live. Close to the motorway but far from the rest of the world, this town combines beauty and a vibrant lifestyle, opportunities for socialising but also for peace. The cultural wealth does the rest. It is linked to Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini or Pious III, nephew of Pope Pious II, who was born here. He was the one who commissioned the building of the church of San Francesco in 1480, with a façade that bears the family crest which is reminiscent of the one on the cathedral in Pienza. But there are many others “emblems” of the territory. Take the recently discovered Etruscan tomb of the Quadriga infernale, which is open to the public, but there is also a replica in the local archaeological museum. Another masterpiece is the Annunciation by Beccafumi, now preserved in the church of San Martino in foro. The dominant element, however, is the castle. Of the four ancient town walls, the one built by the Republic of Siena in the fifteenth century remains intact, together with a reconstruction that is both an imposing, yet graceful structure. The first records of the castle date back to 1038. From 1379 onwards, Sarteano and its keep were allied with Siena. Given its strategic importance, in a border position, the castle was subjected to numerous sieges, including one by Cesare Borgia in 1503, all of which it resisted.
To complete the picture, Etruscan tombs and an ancient excavated road, the remains of a Roman villa, therapeutic springs and biodiversity reflected by a beech forest that is the living “relic” of an ice age. The landscapes that overlook the Chiana valley, Monte Cetona and Val d'Orcia towards Umbria do the rest, in a place that condenses almost all the qualities of Tuscany.
A centre of some importance since ancient times (not surprisingly, the remains of a Roman villa are still visible), linked to Chiusi, it was already a fief of the Manenti before the year 1000, to whom it remained linked until 1280. It then passed to the republics of Orvieto and Perugia and incorporated into the territory of Siena (1370) with a federative pact, which left great autonomy. The surrounding land becomes harsh towards the slopes of the Cetona, but offers breathtaking views.
A “via traversa” passed from Sarteano, which centuries ago linked the Francigena to the Teutonica, two fundamental road networks. The presence of the ancient abbey of Spineta demonstrates the importance of this secondary road. And as if something were missing from this fascinating place, here are the thermal mineral waters, with healing properties, now available in a large area of swimming pools, with a campsite.