The Medieval hill town of Monte San Savino in Tuscany is due east of Siena, located on a commanding hilltop rising above the Valdichiana (Chiana River Valley), about 2 kilometers west of the A1 tollroad. The ancient core of the town is crowded within a remarkably well-preserved wall with most of its historic portals still intact. The area within the wall barely exceeds 800 feet by 1000 feet in dimension, and contains the works of several remarkable Renaissance architects and artists.
The famed Renaissance sculptor and architect Andrea Contucci, known by his “professional” name, Sansovino, was both born and buried here, after a long and productive life designing a number of the major public structures in Venice.
Walls and gates
The Medici Gate – on the north, of course!
Antonio San Gallo also worked here, providing the visitor with a nice game of “scavenger hunt”. Giorgio Vasari designed the northern gate, Porta Fiorentina, designed for the Medici, a then “modern” replacement for the Medieval gate and a necessary pronouncement of the hegemony of Florence.
The main street, Corso San Gallo, enters town via Porta Fiorentina to run south-southeast for the full length of town, first passing Piazza Gamurrini and the Citadel (Cassero) with its local museum, on its way by the de rigure mid-town Loggia de Mercante (designed by Sansovino) across from the church of Sant’ Agostino with its Sansovino-designed cloister, then the Palazzo Communale, or town hall (designed by San Gallo as a residence for the then-Cardinal of the church). The citadel tower and campanile soar into the deep blue Tuscan sky. Sant’ Agostino is worth a visit, including time to ponder Vasari’s remarkable altarpiece, The Assumption, near Sansovino’s gravestone.
South of the church, the Corso bends at Sansovino-designed Piazza di Monte, perhaps not coincidentally located by his family home!
Monte San Savino is a small and fascinating town – small enough that if you do not pay attention, you will soon be rushing through Porta Roma at the south end,
Of course … Headed toward Rome.
The solution (of course) is to simply reverse course and spend a casual day in this peaceful, pleasant place.
Monte San Savino