Discover the medieval village of Cetona in Tuscany
Cetona is a valuable hamlet immersed in the beautiful and picturesque panorama of the Sienese Val di Chiana. The town lies at the foot of Monte Cetona, a mountain of volcanic origin, located about 80 kilometers south of Siena, not far from the border between Tuscany and Umbria. Cetona has Etruscan origins but owes its urban layout to the phase of Sienese domination in the Middle Ages and to the subsequent Medici period. The central nucleus of the village consists of two concentric circles, attributable to the defensive walls, which surround the large central space in which the Rocca stands.
The beauty of the place, the great historical and artistic heritage and the great food and wine tradition have guaranteed Cetona important tourist awards such as the Bandiera Arancione of the Italian Touring Club and the inclusion in the list of the Borghi più belli d’Italia (most beautiful villages in Italy). Surely Cetona will be able to charm those in search of relaxation and a more “slow” tourism, those who want to enjoy nature and landscapes, those who are passionate about art and archeology and even the “foodies”!
History of Cetona
The archaeological finds told us that the area where Cetona stands has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The Etruscans also settled in these parts and founded a series of settlements such as that of Camposervoli just 8 kilometers from today’s Cetona. Like many other Tuscan villages, Cetona also took shape during the Middle Ages with the town that developed around its castle.
Documented since 1200 as a possession of Count Ildebrandino, the castle of Cetona passed under Siena during the fifteenth century. In this period there were the first major architectural interventions, in fact the village was equipped with new walls, citye gates and cylindrical towers. In the Renaissance period the village was granted as a fief to the Vitelli family who provided for the creation of a large square with the function of monumental entrance to the village, today’s Piazza Garibaldi.
Guide to visit Cetona, what to do in the hamlet
Let’s come to the visit of Cetona and discover together what are the main things to do and the main points of interest of this village. I’ll tell you right away that the Rocca is privately owned, so you’ll have to be content with admiring it only from the outside.
- Piazza Garibaldi
- Chiesa di San Michele Arcangelo
- Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata
- Museo civico per la preistoria del Monte Cetona
- Collegiata della Santissima Trinità
Our walk in the village can only start from the square named after Giuseppe Garibaldi who, as we learn from some plaques, stayed in Cetona in 1849. Piazza Garibaldi is very large, perhaps too much compared to the small size of the village, and has a rectangular shape. Here the weekly market is held and the inhabitants gather to have a chat or a coffee.
The square was built in the sixteenth century and this explains the contrast with the rest of the town which has a more markedly medieval imprint with narrow streets and smaller spaces. The historic Palazzo Vitelli, the Church of San Michele Arcangelo, the former Church of the Santissima Annunziata, the Logge and the Torre del Rivellino, the last trace of the third wall placed to defend the village, overlook the square.
Chiesa di San Michele Arcangelo
The Church of San Michele Arcangelo was founded in 1155 but, during the seventeenth century, it was completely rebuilt in the Baroque style. Inside there is a wooden statue of the Umbrian school depicting the Madonna delle Grazie of the fourteenth century and a canvas, Madonna and Saints, of the Sienese school of the mid-sixteenth century.
Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata
The former Church of the Santissima Annunziata dates back to 1558, in the period in which Cetona was part of the possessions of the Marquis Vitelli. If we exclude the sixteenth-century portal, today not much of the original structure of the church remains, also because the building was incorporated into the neighboring houses. Inside, however, there is a rich altar with a seventeenth-century painting depicting the Annunciation.
Museo Civico per la Preistoria del Monte Cetona
Leaving Piazza Garibaldi, we take the road that climbs to the left of the tower, via Roma, to reach the Palazzo Comunale which houses the Museo Civico per la Preistoria del Monte Cetona. The archaeological museum documents the history of the settlement and the inhabited phases of the area around Mount Cetona between the Paleolithic and the Bronze Age.
In addition to the museum, it is possible to visit the Parco Archeologico Naturalistico di Belverde which is composed of some caves such as the cave of San Francesco and the caves of the Noce and of the Poggetto once used as places of worship and for burials. A short distance from the archaeological area, the Archeodromo di Belverde was established, where a prehistoric village from the Bronze Age was partially reconstructed with its huts and a cave dwelling from the Paleolithic era.
The Civic Museum, the Archaeological Park and the Archeodrome make up a really interesting museum and educational itinerary, also very suitable for a visit with children.
For all information on museum hours, tickets and educational activities, I refer you to the official web site.
Collegiata della Santissima Trinità
A short distance from the Palazzo Comunale we get to the Collegiata della Santissima Trinità. This church, built between the 12th and the 13th century, has some frescoes dated at the end of the 15th century as the Assunzione della Vergine attributed to Pinturicchio. Continuing beyond the collegiate church, you can take via dello Steccato from which you can enjoy a beautiful view, or keep walking on via Rosini to get to the Rocca, not open to the public as private property.
The Rocca of Cetona dates back to the 10th century and represents the original nucleus of the town. In the sixteenth century the complex was transformed from a castle into a stately home even if it has retained some typical characteristics of medieval castles and its mighty keep still stands out among the trees and dominates the town. As already mentioned, the Rocca is privately owned and unfortunately it cannot be visited, a real shame!
What to see around Cetona
In addition to the aforementioned archaeological area, near Cetona I would like to point out the Eremo di Santa Maria in Belverde, about three / four kilometers south of the village, consisting of three oratories that are decorated with various frescoes of the fourteenth century. Further south, about 8 km, is the tiny village of Camporsevoli. It is a beautiful fortified village which for many centuries was considered an excellent sighting point of considerable strategic importance.
Remaining in the area of the Val di Chiana, from Cetona you can quickly reach some places famous for their spas such as San Casciano dei Bagni and Chianciano Terme, which are about 16 kilometers away, and numerous centers of considerable interest such as the medieval town of Sarteano (7 km) and the important city of Etruscan origin Chiusi (10 km).
How to get to Cetona
By train: the closest train station is Chiusi Scalo (8 km), from there you can take a bus (line T10 by Siena mobilità)
By bus: from Siena you have to take three busses: line 112 till Montepulciano, line FT4 till Chianciano and finally line FT5. Each line is managed by Siena mobilità. Also from Arezzo you have to take three busses: LS5 (Etruria mobilità) till Bettolle, ST3 till Chiancinao and FT5.
By car: from Florence (130 km), Arezzo (73 km) and Siena (90 km) take highway A1 till the exit Chiusi-Chianciano, continue towards Chiusi on SP146 and finally turn towards Cetona on SP20 and SP231. Coming from Rome the exit from the highway is Fabro.