Buonconvento, a treasure enclosed in brick walls
The municipality of Buonconvento is located about 30 kilometers south of Siena near the confluence of the Arbia and Ombrone rivers. The name of the village derives from the Latin “Bonus Conventus” which means happy, lucky place and in fact this is really a happy place and certainly one of the most beautiful places to visit in the province of Siena.
The town developed during the XII century in relation to the route of the Via Francigena. Its strategic position and its market function made it a particularly important place for Siena. The history of Buonconvento is tied to one particular event: according to some sources, on August 24, 1313 the Emperor Henry VII of Luxembourg was in Buonconvento, where he died of a poisoning. It is not known exactly how much truth there is in this story, but it seems that many details of this story do not differ much from reality.
Things to do Buonconvento: guide for the visit
Today Buonconvento is a very popular tourist resort that can boast of being part of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Walking through its streets you will immerse yourself in a relaxing atmosphere, in a real dive into the Middle Ages. Here the red brick is everywhere, in the solid walls, in churches, palaces, towers. The historic center of Buonconvento is a real work of art and as such is preserved with great care. More and more people are starting to appreciate this area of the Sienese countryside and as you may have known, in May 2017, the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, has also chosen to spend his holidays in these parts; let’s see why.
- Walls and Porta Senese
- Via Soccini
- Chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Paolo
- Museo d’Arte Sacra della Val d’Arbia
- Museo Etnografico della Mezzadria
Walls and Porta Senese
The core of the village looks like a quadrilateral protected by a brick wall with arched crowns. The walls were built by the Sienese from the 1470s and then completed in the course of the following century. The walls had two main city gates: Porta Senese to the north and Porta Romana to the south. Unfortunately, only the first of the two doors has been preserved since the Roman gate was destroyed by the Germans in 1944.
Enclosed within its medieval walls, the historic center of Buonconvento has a shape very similar to a rectangle in the center of which runs the main street: Via Soccini. This street is the beating heart of the city, here there are bars, restaurants, shops and most of the main points of interest and the most important buildings to visit in Buonconvento. Among the various historic buildings overlooking the street, we find the Palazzo Podestarile with the clock tower, the Palazzo Comunale and the Chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Paolo.
Chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Paolo
The Chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Paolo is the main place of worship in Buonconvento. Founded in the 14th century, the church was redone in Baroque forms between 1702 and 1705. The facade is in red brick with some decorative architectural elements in white travertine. The interior, with three naves, preserves a polyptych by Pietro Orioli depicting the Madonna and Child with saints, a Madonna and Child on the throne and angels by Mattero di Giovanni and a fresco, Coronation of the Virgin, from the beginning of the fifteenth century. Other works from the church are now exhibited at the museum of sacred art.
Museo d’Arte Sacra della Val d’Arbia
The Museo d’Arte Sacra della Val d’Arbia is located in the Ricci Socini palace which is located in front of the Chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Paolo. This museum collects various works of art of great value, coming from the churches of the surrounding area. Among the exhibited works, which span a time span from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century, we find paintings, sculptures and goldsmiths that offer a broad cross-section of the artistic production of the area and more generally of the Sienese area. Among the most important works we can mention a Madonna and Child by Duccio di Buoninsegna, an Annunciation by Andrea di Bartolo, some works by Sano di Pietro such as the Coronation of the Virgin, a Madonna and Child by Pietro Lorenzetti and an Ecce homo by Rutilio Manetti.
Find all information on opening hours and tickets on the museum’s official website.
Museo etnografico della mezzadria
Inaugurated in September 2002, the Museo etnografico della mezzadria is an interesting museum focused on the peasant world and in particular on the sharecropping that characterized the Tuscan countryside, from the thirteenth century to the second half of the twentieth century. The museum itinerary develops within what was once a farm, of which the main structures and architectural features can still be appreciated. The topics are numerous: ranging from the landscape, with particular reference to the Sienese landscape, to the farm, the peasant family, the sharecropping life, to the peasant struggles and the exodus from the countryside with the end of the sharecropping system; a very broad and complete overview of the world and traditional life in the countryside.
For more information, I refer you to the museum website.
Where to eat in Buonconvento
On the main road, we suggest the restaurant Da Mario, where you can try the local cuisine. Personally I recommend you take the typical Sienese pici that I tried in the variant with sausage and mushrooms… truly delicious!
What to see around Buonconvento
The area around Buonconvento as well as being very beautiful from a landscape point of view, is also appreciated for numerous points of interest that are scattered there. There are some castles such as those of Bibbiano, Castelrosi and Castelnuovo Tancredi (used as a hotel), Villa La Rondinella, considered by many to be the best example of liberty architecture in the panorama of Sienese architecture, as well as some churches scattered in the surroundings such as the Pieve di Sant’Innocenza in Piana.
From Buonconvento you can quickly reach all the main towns of the Crete Senesi such as Asciano (18 km) and Trequanda (29 km), the wonderful Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore (9 km) and the spa town of Rapolano Terme (26 km).
How to get to Buonconvento
By train: Buonconvento has its own railway station, served daily by regional trains that connect it directly with Siena.
By car: from Siena (25 km) you must take the Regional Road 2 Cassia.
If you come from the North with the A1, must take the Firenze Impruneta exit and take the Firenze-Siena motorway junction to Siena, from there SR2 to their destination.
Those arriving from the south must take the Chiusi Chianciano exit of the A1 and follow the signs for Chianciano and San Quirico d’Orcia. From there SR2 to Buonconvento.