Chianciano Terme is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Siena in the Italian region Tuscany, located about 90 km southeast of Florence and about 50 km southeast of Siena. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 7,223 and an area of 36.5 km2.
Chianciano Terme borders the following municipalities: Chiusi, Montepulciano, Pienza, Sarteano.
Chianciano Terme can trace its history back to the 5th century BC and the Etruscans, who had built a temple dedicated to the god of Good Health, close to the Silene springs where the newer quarter of Chianciano (the Terme section) stands today. Please refer to our history section for more about Chianciano Terme.
Present day Chianciano Terme has two distinct areas: Chianciano Vecchia (Ancient Chianciano) is located atop a small hill. The Porta Rivellini, with its elegant Renaissance structure, is the main gateway into the town at the end of the Via Dante. In contrast to this is the modern quarter, the Terme, whose nucleus has grown around the thermal springs and stretches northward in a crescent shape along the Vale della Liberta towards the older city.
Today, the Terme section is considered among the finest health resorts in Italy with its parks, numerous hotels and especially its theraputic water that is reputed to cleanse the liver via an increase in the production and excretion of liver bile. Among the more notable spas are: Acqua Santa, Acqua Fucoli, Acqua Sillene, Acqua Santissima (which also advertizes itself as a spa for those with respiratory problems), and Acqua Sant'Elena (also advertizes itself as having calcic-alkaline bicarbonate in its water to treat kidney and urinary tract problems).
Please read also our article about Wellness in Chianciano-Terme.
The "Town" and its thermal growth
Chianciano has got two separate identities. There is the thermal Chianciano, with parks and avenues, hotels and shops, but it also exists the original core of the town, the so called "paese" (village).
The antique Chianciano is linked by della Libertà Avenue to the new part, that has been spreading around the thermal parks. It rises up within the walls, one can enter by passing through Rivellini Gate. On the left, just after the small Mercy church (that is today dedicated to the Virgin), there is the massive structure of the Manenti Counts Castle, which is called the Monastery, while the Clock Tower stands out at the end of the road.
From the wall below one can admire a unique and wide panorama, with the peaks of the Cetona and Amiata Mounts overlooking in the distance; in the valley, mingling with one another, the three lakes of Chiusi, Montepulciano and the Trasimeno.
Beyond the Clock Tower,
the street opens into the main square of the village, Matteotti Square, with its beautiful fountain. Here you can also find the seat of the Geo-Archaeological Association (for information tel. 0578.30.665), often presenting interesting thematic shows within a room that is usually employed as laboratory for the restoration of archaeological finds. Coming on to Via Solferino, just at the beginning it appears the town hall and on the right small streets follow one another, with arches and little squares where time seems to have stopped and the rhythms of life are still liveable.
By the middle of Via Solferino we find on our right a square that is closed on its sides by the Podestà Palace, with its front still showing the coat of arms of the antique local podestà and by the Archpriest House where there is also the seat of the Collegiate Church Museum (for any information tel. 0578. 30.378).
Within the small halls you can admire:
a dramatic 14th-century Crucifix, by Duccio di Buoninsegna's school. A Madonna with the Holy Child and Saints, that is also ascribed to the 14th-century Siennese school, to the "Master of Chianciano"; another Madonna with the Holy Child, by 14th-century Florentine School, it being ascribed to Nicolò Gerini; a wooden statue of the Madonna with the Holy Child, dating back to the 14th-century, is ascribed to one of Nicolò Pisano' followers. It is interesting to mention, also as a historical document, the painting with St. John the Baptist, patron of the town, serving as a support for Chianciano that is here depicted as it was in the 16th century. The Collegiate Church is also dedicated to St. John the Baptist. It suddenly appears at the end of the street with its spiral portal in a plain Romanesque style. Also interesting as a historical document, the painting of St. John the Baptist, patron of the town, serves as a support for Chianciano that is here depicted as it was in the 16th century.
The Collegiate Church is also dedicated to St. John the Baptist. It suddenly appears at the end of the street with its spiral portal in plain Romanesque style.
Inside it, within the chapel in the right cross vault, there is a crib by the Rustichino, a Siennese painter of the 15th century. There is also an interesting wood Crucifix dating back even to the 12th century and an Assumption of the Virgin of the 14th century. An attentive visitor cannot but continue his itinerary that will take him, beyond the Sun Gate, to the Madonna of the Rose Church, being perhaps the most beautiful one in Chianciano. Built on a central plan, even though it wasn't finished, the church was constructed in the second half of the 16th century on a project by Baldassarre Lanci. It is certainly a notable architectonic work for its sober harmony of line culminating in an elegant dome. The name that has been given to the church is explained by a painting inside it: a Madonna presenting a rose to the Child, between the Saints John the Baptists and Bartholomew.
A museum for Horace's waters
It's easy to reach the Archaeological Civic Museum in Chianciano Terme: it is at the beginning of Via Dante, nearby the old part of the town.
The building containing it was built at the end of the last century to gather the food-stuffs coming from the big Palace farm. In 1997 there was inaugurated this exposition room, that is part of the museums ensemble of Siena. Having been recently enlarged, it gathers the archaeological materials that have been dug out within the local territory and then divided into topographic sections. There are objects coming from the necropolis, among which a big chamber tomb, that has been reconstructed inside the Museum. It belonged to an Etruscan prince who died at the end of the 7th century B. C.
An important section is the one gathering some remains of the Roman age. They are materials that have been dug out of a big cistern and of the big thermal structure that is still under excavation in the Mezzomiglio area. The annual excavation campaigns the Arizona University has been undertaking here are bringing to light an extraordinary structure, made of a big basin that should be surrounded by a portico, whose floor was realised with tiles bearing the consular seal of the 114 A. C. According to the tradition, this is the place where the poet Horace should come to benefit by the therapeutic qualities of Chianciano waters, under suggestion of the doctor Antonio Musa, who was particularly famous cause he had cured the emperor August.