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Street in San Quirico d'Orcia, by Darcy Aubin 

Click here to see more pictures of San Quirico d'Orcia and the Val d'Orcia


Collegiata Church in San Quirico d'Orcia

casa d oro - San Quirico d Orcia, Siena
Medieval street in San Quirico d'Orcia


Horti Leoni in San Quirico d'Orcia


Landscape near San Quirico d'Orcia




The streets and the cathedral at the historical centre of Massa, Tuscany, by Darcy Aubin

Welcome to San Quirico d'Orcia

Population:
2,526 (2004)
Region
: Tuscany
Map:
 San Quirico d'Orcia
Wikipedia: San Quirico d'Orcia

Official website

Named in honour of Saint Quiricus, the walled town of San Quirico d'Orcia is situated on the northern edge of the broad Val'Dorcia about 35 kilometers south of Siena and about 80 kilometers south of Florence.  The town grew on the site of a very ancient hamlet called   Osenna, which had its own founding in Etruscan times.

The Val d'Orcia is a unique landscape - broader and more chalky than the clay landscapes of the Sienese Crete to the north and east with undulating, often cone-shaped hills. The dominant colour is grey-green, with patches of brown fields that together set of the vertical spokes of cypress trees that line the roadways and farm drives.  The landscape was as much loved by the Renaissance painters of Siena as it is to shutter bugs today.

The town, with a population of just over 2500, is one of the prettiest and most amiable of the ancient towns in southern Tuscany and well worth a visit.  It is close to Montepulciano, Pienza and Montalcino and can be (and should be) easily included with them when traveling in the area.  Other villages in the area are San Giovanni d'Asso and Castiglione d'Orcia.

San Quirico is situated on one of the main pilgrim routes of the middle ages, the Via Francigena, which connected Canterbury in England to Rome, passing through France.

A stroll through the town makes for a very pleasant time in and of itself, but as you progress down the well swept and clean medieval streets you will encounter at one end the Collegiate Church of San Quirico and an Italian garden, the Horti Leoni, at the other.

The Collegiate Church (full name - Collegiata dei Santi Quirico e Giulitta) had its beginnings in the 8th century as humble church for local people - a pleban church as it is called - but it was completely rebuilt in the 12th century on the Latin Cross plan with nave and side chapels, and a choir was added in 1663.   Most of the interior decoration that one sees today dates to the 17th century.  The Campanile - or bell tower that sits stolidly beside the main structure - was restored between 1796 and 1806.

Other churches in San Quirico include the Romanesque church of San Biagio a Vignoni, the Church of Santa Maria Assunta (late 11th century), the Church of San Giovanni Battista, at Bagno Vignoni and the Church of Madonna di Vitaleta, housing a "Madonna" attributed to Andrea della Robbia. 

Those with an interest in architecture can also stop by  the Palazzo Pretorio (town hall) and Palazzo Chigi, a massive structure built in the mid 17th century by Cardinal Flavio Chigi.  It suffered bomb damage during Word War II and has never been properly restored.  The Giardino delle Rose (rose garden) and the centuries-old Scala hospital each hold their own fascinations.

The Horti Leonini, named for its designer Diomedi Leoni, at the opposite end of the town was started around 1540) and is a superb example of an Italian garden, although it does feel a bit frayed and down at heels at the moment.  From time to time it is used to display contemporary sculpture, some of which have not escaped and remain on permanent display.  Hidden in the woods on the slope facing in the garden is an ancient well now full of detritus of all descriptions.

Because San Quirico d'Orcia is off the beaten path - the main rail line and the autostrada between Rome and Florence passes to the east the area is not crawling with tourists.  The area is, therefore, a mecca for bicyclists and hikers, as well as those who are content to drive a car while seeking out interesting, picturesque, historical towns like this.

Region of Tuscany

434′N 1136′E

 


Coat of Arms

Directions

San Quirico d'Orcia is  very easy to reach, following either the A1 (Rome-Milan central highway) and exiting at Pienza.  Follow signs to Pienza and keep going.  There are numerous indications for San Quirico along the way.

Looking for a place on in San Quirico d'Orcia or the Orcia Valley (Val D'Orcia)?  Check out our great selection of villas, apartments and charming hotels in the area. Visit our selction of accommodations in South East Tuscany.

If you could ask an expert why wouldn't you? Contact us today, for the best places to stay in the beautiful Val D'Orcia.