The territory of Chianciano Terme extends for 37 kmq in the southern part of Siena province, between the Orcia Valley and the Chiana Valley, at 475-metre altitude. This zone had been inhabited by man since the Neolithic age and several settlements had been following one another until the flourishing of the Etruscan civilisation.
The human presence in this area grew notably around the seventh century B. C., as it is testified by the Foce-Tolle necropolis, where there have been found canopic jars, little vases, fibulas. The growth of the Pedata-Le Piane necropolis dates back to the end of the seventh century. It now presents very rich tomb outfits: entire sets of banquet vases and goblets of Greek-Oriental manufacture. One of the main centres of the Etruscan civilisation was Chiusi and the axis linking the town to the sea, passing through Chianciano, one of the major expansion directrixes. In the second century B. C., the population increased and so did the settlements all around the territory of Chianciano, probably in relationship with religious needs. From the end of the second century to the beginning of the first century B. C. the first villas appeared in the agrarian landscape, generally in fertile areas near to road tracings.
The Middle Ages
The first written documentary evidences about Chianciano date back to the twelfth century: in 1139 the place is by chance mentioned in a list of witnesses who had been present at the donation of part of Radicofani Castle by the Manenti Count to the Bishop of Siena. In 1167 Orvieto Consul, Tancredi Manente, calls himself "Count of Chianciano". In 1171 Chianciano is cited in a contract ("in Clanciano ed in tota curie eius") and in 1230 is defined "Commune".
In that very year, on the 2nd July, Chianciano was subjected by the Manentis to Siena. Florence, Orvieto and Montepulciano didn't look favourably upon Siena expansionist attempts. After seven years of fights, on the 14th May 1237, the Manenti Counts subdued Chianciano to Orvieto, but in 1244 it was Montepulciano to have the better, obliging the Manentis to become its lords and annexing their lands: Sarteano, Chianciano, Paciano, Panicale.
Chianciano inhabitants had been feeling subjected to Orvieto for years, but once Orvieto had decayed, in 1347, Chianciano passed more steadily under Siena influence, though it maintained its own autonomy, thanks to its economic vitality, its favourable geographic position as boundary territory and above all thanks to the agreements with the town of Siena. Even though the treaty established the election of a Sienese citizen as podestà and recognised to Siena the power to declare the state of war or peace, it also defined a state of equality in the administration of justice and in the imposition of taxes, besides the prohibition for Siena inhabitants to hold any property in Chianciano, however obtaining the warranty of defence in the case of invasions and ravages. The treaty lasted until the end of Siena Republic, when in 1556, its district became part of the Grand Duchy.
Though Chianciano enjoyed a very flourishing trade production and several economic and tax privileges, during the Middle Ages its energies were weakened by a long series of events and invasions:
- the dramatic black plague in 1348, that swept away half of the population
- Chianciano commune turning to feud in 1373 under the Turenne viscount Guglielmo of Beaufort named the Villata, nephew of the Pope Clemente VI. He held Chianciano until 1386
- a pestilence in 1399 and the subsequent famine
- the raids and ravages by the bands of mercenaries often crossing Chianciano territory
- Siena struggling against Florence
- The invasions by: Ladislao, King of Naples, in 1409; Braccio da Montone, Prince of Perugia, in 1418; Montepulciano inhabitants in 1433
The fifteenth and the sixteenth century
Between the second half of the fifteenth and the sixteenth century Chianciano found the fit to face with a firm renewal, that was however disturbed by several difficulties:
- the conflicts with Montepulciano, to define the boundaries
- a new plague epidemic in 1476
- Carlo from Montone's invasion in 1477
- the repeated pillages and the destruction of harvests after the attack of the King of Naples and the Pope against Siena and Florence in 1478
- the occupation, on the 18th January 1503, by the Duke Valentine (Cesare Borgia)
- a new terrible plague in 1526
However both cattle-breeding and agriculture continued to sustain economy. The war between the Republic of Siena and the Dukedom of Florence at the half of the sixteenth century broke up this stage of relative growth. Chianciano engaged all its means in it, with grave human and economic losses. Walls were destroyed, houses set on fire, the people halved. Subjected to Florence, Chianciano was then reconstructed by Cosimo I Medici.
From the seventeenth-century crisis to the twentieth-century magnificence
At the end of the eighteenth century Chianciano began to realise the possibilities deriving from the exploitation of waters and built the first thermal establishments. Its history from the nineteenth century will be strictly linked with the Thermal Baths vicissitudes, with their management, with the investments the Commune will decide to sustain in order to increase their value. In 1777 in the purpose of reducing the minor municipalities Pietro Leopoldo deprived Chianciano people of their autonomy, absorbing them into Sarteano together with Cetona.
1848 uprisings shook the whole Tuscany and also Chianciano wasn't spared. The restoration of the constitutional monarchy under Leopold II after a period of provisional government calmed the Town Council. Nevertheless Chianciano was newly shaken by the passage of Garibaldi's troops, on the 16th July 1849. In 1859 the Grand Duke Leopold II left Florence and Ricasoli was elected to preside the provisional government. The people in Chianciano supported with no reservation the politics of the new government and gave their consent, though in a moderate manner, to realise the unity of the town.
The beginning of the twentieth century is characterised by a lively political struggle between the liberal-monarchic party and the socialist one, that had been growing since the end of the previous century. As a matter of fact the popular classes begin to shift the current political and social balances. Umberto Lucherini will be the first socialist Syndic in Chianciano. He is nominated on the 7th December 1907. The following history of Chianciano will be closely linked to the problem of haw to improve the Thermal Baths, the town having been identifying itself since ever with them.