Val di Chiana

Things to do in Lucignano in Tuscany
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Guide to visit Lucignano in Val di Chiana

Lucignano is a small town in the province of Arezzo which is located in the heart of the Val di Chiana, in a hilly position on the border between the territories of Arezzo, Siena and Perugia. Rightly considered one of the best examples of medieval town planning in Tuscany, Lucignano is characterized by a peculiar elliptical concentric ring layout. Defined by many “The pearl of the Valdichiana”, Lucignano is part of the Association of the most beautiful villages in Italy and has been awarded the Orange Flag of the Italian Touring Club. Certain awards make it clear what is the beauty of the place and the quality of the tourist offer that this small medieval village can offer to visitors.

The area of ​​the Val di Chiana has been inhabited since the time of the Etruscans and in fact, over the years, many archaeological finds from that period have been found in the area. Subsequently the Romans founded a castrum on the hill where the village stands today, which was called Lucinianum in honor of the consul Licinius. The current name, Lucignano, derives from the ancient Roman name Lucinianum.

As we said, the city is located on the border between the areas of Arezzo, Siena and Perugia. This meant that during the Middle Ages Lucignano had a rather significant strategic value. For this reason it found itself to be long disputed by these powers. At first it entered the sphere of influence of Arezzo but was then conquered by Perugia. After the definitive defeat of Arezzo at the hands of Florence and the passage of Perugia to the Papal State, Siena found a free way and took possession of the town. We are now in the fourteenth century, when the Sienese endowed Lucignano with a solid city wall and a fortress to guard the city. The Sienese dominion lasted until the mid-sixteenth century when Siena was conquered by Florence, which at that point also came into possession of Lucignano.

Lucignano (Photo by Edisonblus / CC BY)

What to see in Lucignano: guide to the visit

The current system developed from the thirteenth century. With the Sienese domination the fortifications were completed with the construction of the city walls and gates. The Rocca Senese also dates back to this period, while at the time of the Medici the city was enriched with the Medici Fortress, the Collegiate Church, the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Querce, the convent of the Capuchin fathers and the Church of the Misericordia. The older ones are the Church of San Biagio, the Palazzo Pretorio and the Church of San Francesco.

The first thing to do in Lucignano is the classic walk through the streets of the village to discover the most interesting monuments. Then I recommend a visit to the Municipal Museum and finally to take advantage of the local cuisine with many dishes derived from the peasant tradition in which the excellences of the territory are enhanced starting from extra virgin olive oil, honey, meat and cured meats.

City walls

Like any self-respecting medieval village, Lucignano also has one of its walls, which are still well preserved today, at least in some places. Along the walls there are four city gates: Porta San Giusto which faces Siena and is the main access to the historic center, Porta Sant’Angelo which today is a simple passage that opens into a modern building, Porta San Giovanni which is on the opposite side with respect to San Giusto, and Porta Murata (which means “closed door”) which is so called because it was closed in the sixteenth century and only reopened after a recent restoration. Along the walls there is also the Cassero with its high tower with a square base. After the defeat of Siena, the Cassero was converted into a granary and in the nineteenth century it was transferred to the theater. In front of the Cassero there is the small but pretty Piazza delle Logge.

Collegiata di San Michele Arcangelo

In front of the Cassero, a short ramp leads up to the Collegiata di San Michele Arcangelo. Built in 1594, the church has a Latin cross plan with one nave. The facade is quite simple and is incomplete at the top.

Inside there are some seventeenth-century paintings and above all a beautiful altar in marble and stucco from the early eighteenth century. Among the various works we find the Visitation by Matteo Rosselli, the Transit of San Giuseppe by Onorio Marinari, a Last Supper attributed to Rutilio Manetti, the Martyrdom of Santa Lucia and San Carlo visits the plague victims by Giacinto Gemignani. Finally, in the Cappella del Santissimo Sacramento, decorated by Luigi Ademollo, there is a Crucifix from the end of the fourteenth century.

Things to do in Lucignano: visit the Collegiate church of San Michele Arcangelo
Collegiate church of San Michele Arcangelo

Museo Comunale

Behind the Collegiata, the central square of the town opens up: piazza del Tribunale. Here stands the Palazzo comunale and, to its right in a set back position, the chiesa di San Francesco.

The fourteenth-century Town Hall, decorated on the facade by some stone coats of arms, houses the Museo Comunale founded in 1924. The small museum exhibits works, mainly of sacred art, dated between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The most important piece of the museum is the so-called “Albero della Vita“(the “Tree of Life” also known as “Tree of Lucignano”, “Tree of Love” and “Golden Tree”). It is a precious tree-shaped reliquary created between the 14th and 15th centuries by Sienese goldsmiths and illuminators with composite materials ranging from gilded copper to coral.

In the museum you can admire several other works of great interest such as the Madonna Enthroned with Child by Niccolò and Francesco di Segna, the triptych Madonna Enthroned with Child, St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist by Bartolo di Fredi, the St. Francis receiving the stigmata and the Madonna and Child attributed to Luca Signorelli.

For all information on museum opening times and tickets, I recommend you visit the municipality’s website.

Chiesa di San Francesco

Built in the thirteenth century, the chiesa di San Francesco has a peculiar two-tone facade in which white and gray rows alternate. The element that strikes the most attention is certainly the beautiful Gothic portal. The interior of the church has a single nave and follows the typical pattern of Franciscan churches with a T-shaped plan.

The church is enriched by numerous frescoes from the Sienese school. The oldest and most famous is the Triumph of Death by Bartolo di Fredi, others were made by Taddeo di Bartolo while others still date back to the 1500s. Also worth seeing is the polyptych by Luca di Tommè on the High Altar and the wooden statue of the Madonna of Crespignano (late 14th century).

Things to do in Lucignano: visit the Chiesa di San Francesco
Chiesa di San Francesco (Photo by Gessiz / CC BY)

Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata

The Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata (or Chiesa della Misericordia) is located right next to San Francesco, in Via della Misericordia. Less remarkable than its neighbor, this church dates back to the second half of the fifteenth century but was later rebuilt during the seventeenth century.

Inside there are some interesting paintings of the Tuscan school of the late sixteenth century and a couple of glazed terracotta statues made in the Della Robbia style. In the sacristy of the church is the Museum of Charity, which collects furnishings, clothing and furnishings used by members of the Confraternity of Mercy.

What to see near Lucignano

Fortezza Medicea

The Fortezza Medicea is located on a hill a short distance from the historic center of Lucignano. The construction dates back to the second half of the sixteenth century, or immediately after the Florentine conquest. For the construction of the fortress, Cosimo I entrusted the project to Bernardo Puccini, one of his best military architects. Today of the fortress remain two bulwarks: the Baluardo del Calcione, facing north, and the Baluardo della Purità which is located to the south.

Santuario della Madonna della Querce

The Santuario di Santa Maria della Querce is located a few hundred meters after the fortress, along a quiet country lane. Since the fifteenth century this place was a pilgrimage destination due to some miraculous visions. A small church was built in 1467 while the current complex was built by Giorgio Vasari in 1564.

Thermal baths near Lucignano

In the surroundings of Lucignano there are several places famous for their spas. The closest is Rapolano Terme which is located in the Crete Senesi a few kilometers away. Going down the Val di Chiana you will find Chianciano Terme and San Casciano dei Bagni.

More hamlets in the Val di Chiana

In Val di Chiana there are many medieval villages and charming villages that deserve to be visited. If you are planning a holiday in this area of Tuscany, I recommend that you read the guides on Cortona, Castiglion Fiorentino, Montepulciano and Chiusi.

How to get to Lucignano

Lucignano is located 25 kilometers from Arezzo, just under 50 from Siena and about 80 from Florence. It does not have its own train station, however, it is located near the A1 motorway and is regularly served by a bus service that guarantees connection with Arezzo.

By car: if you come from the north (Florence) you have to take the A1 motorway to the Monte San Savino exit; from the south (Rome) you must always take the A1 but then take the Valdichiana exit.

Public transport: by train to Arezzo and then by bus (Tiemme).
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