Sinalunga in the province of Siena
Sinalunga is a town in the province of Siena in Tuscany. The village is located in a beautiful panoramic position, overlooking the Val di Chiana from the top of a hill. Its historic center presents itself with the typical maze of irregular streets that we can find in most of the historic Tuscan villages of medieval origin. Less known than many other places in the province of Siena, Sinalunga is actually a beautiful town with several interesting things to see and a very long story to tell.
The first findings in the area date back to prehistoric times and as early as the eighth century BC. here was a permanent settlement. At that time the area was inhabited and controlled by the Etruscans who had the main center of reference in Chiusi. The Etruscan settlement prospered until the first century BC, the period to which the first remains of the Roman era also date back. Unlike the Etruscans, the Romans settled downstream in the area that is now known as Pieve di Sinalunga. Over time, Ad Mensulas (as it was called Pieve di Sinalunga in Roman times), became a post office along the Via Cassia, the Roman consular road that connected Rome with Etruria.
The Middle Ages marked the rebirth of the hilltop village that was formed around the Castello delle Ripe. This was also determined by the fact that the Val di Chiana underwent a swamp also due to the abandonment of all those water channeling systems inherited from Etruscans and Romans.
In 782 the village of “Assinalonga” (name from which the current Sinalunga derives) already existed. Shortly after, Sinalunga became part of the Cacciaconti estates, who had numerous properties in the area south of Siena. Towards the end of the 13th century, from a branch of the Cacciaconti family, the famous Ghino di Tacco was born in the nearby locality of La Fratta, the outlaw also known as the Robin Hood of Tuscany.
On November 20, 1303, Sinalunga became a free municipality, while remaining within the orbit of the city of Siena. Like all the other towns in the area, it then found itself involved in the wars between the city of the Palio and Florence which ended only in 1555 with the definitive defeat of Siena. In the following two years, when the Sienese government withdrew to Montalcino, Sinalunga was reconquered by Siena but two years later, in 1557 it definitively became part of the state that a few years later would become the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
What to see in Sinalunga
We come to the visit of Sinalunga. The historic center is full of historic buildings and monuments. Right in the center of the town is the Palazzo Pretorio which bears some resemblance to the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena; in the southern part we find three churches: the Collegiate Church of San Martino, the Church of Santa Croce and that of the Madonna delle Nevi. In the lower part of the city, Pieve di Sinalunga, there is the historic Pieve di San Pietro ad Mensulas to see, while in the surrounding area there is a series of farms of considerable historical interest.
The Palazzo Pretorio of Sinalunga overlooks a square that opens right in the center of the medieval village. The square is small and has an irregular course with the building located at the highest point; these two aspects contribute to making it seem even more impressive than it actually is. Observing it, many of you will notice some resemblance to the Palazzo Pubblico which is located in Piazza del Campo in Siena. In fact, the Palazzo Pretorio di Sinalunga has a very similar bell tower to the Torre del Mangia in Siena.
This palace dates back to a period between 1337 and 1346. On its façade you can see some coats of arms that identify the Podestà who followed one another both during the Sienese dominion and during the Grand Ducal period. The largest coat of arms, in the center of the façade, is instead that of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
Collegiata di San Martino
Built in 1588, the Collegiate Church of San Martino is the main place of worship in Sinalunga. The architectural style reflects that of the era of construction, presenting numerous Renaissance and Baroque elements.
The works preserved inside are truly remarkable. Among these I point out the Madonna and Child with Saints by Sodoma, the Marriage of the Madonna by Rutilio Manetti, Madonna and Child between Saints Martino and Sebastiano by Benvenuto di Giovanni and Saints Catherine of Siena, Domenico, Martino, Francesco, Lucia and Caterina d’Alessandria by Giuseppe Nicola Nasini.
Chiesa di Santa Croce
The Church of Santa Croce is located right next to the Collegiate Church. This delightful church has a beautiful facade partly plastered and partly brick with various decorative elements well organized in a very pleasant whole. Inside there are some statues and a couple of paintings.
Chiesa della Madonna delle Nevi
The third and last church located in the upper part of Sinalunga is the Church of the Madonna delle Nevi. Built in the second half of the seventeenth century, the church took on its current Baroque appearance with the restorations of 1703. The interior, very beautiful, is characterized by a clever contrast between the blue of the walls and the white of the altars and other decorative elements.
Larth, Le stanze Etrusche di Sinalunga
In Sinalunga you will also find a small Etruscan museum. It is called Larth, Le stanze Etrusche di Sinalunga and is a collection of Etruscan finds from the necropolis of San Giustino and from the nearby Etruscan settlement of Le Carceri.
Pieve di San Pietro ad Mensulas
The Pieve di San Pietro ad Mensulas is one of the oldest churches in the whole area. Today it appears in its Romanesque form even if this is not the first version of the church. The current facade is also the result of a nineteenth-century restoration. Inside we find a Madonna with Child and two saints from the Sienese school, an Annunciation and a seventeenth-century Delivery of the keys to St. Peter.
Surroundings of Sinalunga
Around Sinalunga there are several historic farms that date back to the period following the reclamation of the Val di Chiana carried out by Grand Duke Leopold II. The most important are three: L’Amorosa, the Fattoria della Fratta and the Real Fattoria di Bettolle.
Inhabited since the Etruscan era, the Amorosa is mentioned as a castle in the fresco of the “Battle of Val di Chiana” in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena; today the complex has been converted into an accommodation facility.
The Fratta farm also has a medieval plant. The small village was built along the Via Cassia and is documented since 1208. In 2019 the film Pinocchio directed by Matteo Garrone was shot here.
The Real Fattoria di Bettolle once belonged to the Knights of Santo Stefano, a knightly order committed to fighting the enemies of the Christian faith that was at the service of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany.
Other hamlets to visit in the area
In the municipal area of Sinalunga there are other small villages of medieval origin. One is Bettolle where in addition to the Real Fattoria there is also the Church of San Cristoforo. In Rigomagno there are the medieval walls, the church of San Marcellino, the nineteenth-century public cistern and the Palazzo Pretorio to see. The ancient tower of the keep and some churches are the main things to see in Scrofiano. Finally, in Farnetella you will find a beautiful nineteenth-century castle.
In the surroundings of Sinalunga we find many other interesting places to visit. Among the villages of the Val di Chiana, the closest are Lucignano, Torrita di Siena, Foiano and Montefollonico. Crossing the other side, in the Crete Senesi, you will find Rapolano Terme, Serre di Rapolano, Asciano and Trequanda.
How to get to Sinalunga
Sinalunga is located 45 km from Siena, 90 km from Florence and 35 from Arezzo. Getting to Sinalunga is easy. The city has a railway station, located in the lower part, which is regularly served by regional trains; it is also very close to the A1 motorway and the Siena-Bettolle motorway junction so it is very easy to reach even by car.
Those who travel by public transport must first reach Siena or Arezzo and then continue by bus or train to their destination. By car if you come from Florence or from outside the region, you have to take the A1 motorway to the Valdichiana and then continue on the Siena-Bettolle motorway connection until the exit for Sinalunga. If you come from Siena you have to make the connection towards Bettolle and always exit at Sinalunga Centro.
Where to sleep in Sinalunga
In the Sinalunga area there are many farmhouses, hotels, bed and breakfasts and holiday homes to choose from.
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