Crete Senesi

Monteroni d’Arbia in the province of Siena
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Guide to visiting Monteroni d’Arbia

Monteroni d’Arbia is a small village located south of Siena immersed in the beauty of the Crete Senesi landscape. The town is about 15 kilometers from Siena and is located on a low hill at an altitude of 161 meters above sea level. The name of this town derives from the geographical area of ​​the place: Monteroni comes from “Monte Roni” which is a hill in the area while Arbia is the stream that flows immediately outside the town.

For centuries this has been a transit area whose fortunes have been linked to the Via Francigena. The constant flow of pilgrims headed for Rome attracted the interest of the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala in Siena which, starting from 1200, bought numerous lands in the area. In 1322, the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala built a large mill which gave a significant impetus to the development of Monteroni.

Until the mid-fourteenth century, the village experienced a certain economic development thanks to investments from Siena. Unfortunately, this fortunate period was abruptly interrupted with the arrival of the plague (1348) and other adverse events such as the incursions in the mid-fourteenth century and the War of Siena in the mid-sixteenth century. The wars caused great devastation throughout the territory. The castles were not spared, nor the churches and even the mill was seriously damaged.

Today the Municipality of Monteroni d’Arbia is rediscovering a tourist vocation centered on the enhancement of its historical heritage and agricultural tradition. In this context, the excellent position halfway between Siena and the Val d’Orcia and the presence of a direct railway connection with the city of the Palio help a lot.

What to see in Monteroni d’Arbia

Monteroni d’Arbia retains a good number of medieval architecture such as the fortified water mill. Crossing the inhabited center you can also see the facade of what was once the Pieve dei Santi Giusto e Donato. A little north of Monteroni we find the Grancia di Cuna, a remarkable 13th century fortified farm. Among the other churches in the area stand out that of Santi Giacomo and Cristoforo in Cuna and the two parish churches dedicated to San Giovanni Battista which are located in Ville di Corsano and in Lucignano d’Arbia. Also in Lucignano to see the two gate-towers of the fourteenth century and some beautiful buildings. Finally, in the area there is no shortage of castles: among these I point out the Castle of San Fabiano which today is used as a luxury hotel and location for weddings and events.

Grancia di Cuna

La Grancia di Cuna is located just two kilometers north of Monteroni d’Arbia. Considered one of the most interesting examples of a fortified farm in all of Tuscany, the grancia was built in 1224 by the Municipality of Siena by the Spedale di Santa Maria della Scala, in place of a pre-existing structure of the Spedale, which dates back to the 12th century. This particular and very interesting architectural complex is composed of a small walled village and a fortified farm. All the buildings overlook a triangular-shaped central square which is accessed through a door complete with a defensive tower similar to those found in medieval cities.

Chiesa dei Santi Giacomo e Cristoforo

The Church of Saints Giacomo and Cristoforo is located immediately outside the access door of the Grancia di Cuna. The current church is the result of a complete renovation which took place in 1314, the year in which the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala decided to build a new granary and new fortifications. This church is completely made of red bricks, a material widely used also in Monteroni d’Arbia and more generally in the whole area. Inside are the remains of some fourteenth-century frescoes, including a Madonna with Child and Saints, a Presentation in the Temple and an Adoration of the Magi.

Pieve di San Giovanni Battista in Ville di Corsano

The Parish Church of San Giovanni Battista in Ville di Corsano is a magnificent Romanesque style building documented as early as 1031. Its façade is characterized by two superimposed orders with blind arches at the bottom and hanging arches at the top. The interior has three naves. The parish houses two paintings, the Annunciation and Adoration of the Shepherds, by Alessandro Casolani and a terracotta sculpture, Sant’Agata, attributed to Carlo di Andrea Galletti.

Pieve di San Giovanni Battista in Ville di Corsano
Pieve di San Giovanni Battista (Photo by Vignaccia76 / CC BY)

Pieve di San Giovanni Battista in Lucignano d’Arbia

Lucignano d’Arbia is one of the hamlets of the municipality of Monteroni and is located less than two kilometers away in a southerly direction (along the Cassia). This village is a little gem and I recommend that you stop by because it is really worth it. After crossing the turreted door, after a short walk among pretty brick buildings, you will reach the Pieve di San Giovanni Battista. The church is mentioned in documents since the tenth century and thanks to a twentieth-century restoration it still shows its Romanesque aspect. The simplicity of the façade is interrupted only by the two-tone bezel that surmounts the portal and by the small eye that opens immediately above. Inside there is a Crucifixion and saints by Bartolomeo Neroni also known as il Riccio.

What to see around Monteroni d’Arbia

As I said at the beginning, Monteroni d’Arbia is located in the Crete Senesi, a very beautiful area where you can admire the Tuscan countryside in all its splendor. Nearby you can visit many places of undoubted beauty, also taking advantage of the proximity of Siena and the Val d’Orcia. Continuing south, along the Val d’Arbia, the first place to visit is certainly the magnificent village of Buonconvento, one of the most beautiful in the entire province of Siena. In the Crete I also recommend going to Asciano as well as to Rapolano Terme, Serre di Rapolano, San Giovanni d’Asso and Trequanda. Absolutely not to be missed is the suggestive Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore.

How to get to Monteroni d’Arbia

Monteroni d’Arbia has its own railway station which is regularly connected to Siena by regional trains. Alternatively, from Siena you can also take a bus to reach Monteroni.

By car from Siena you have to take the SR2 Cassia towards the south (about half an hour by road). From Florence (90 km), you have to make the Florence-Siena motorway link and then continue on the Cassia to your destination.
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