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SURROUNDINGS ( The "Jewel Towns" )

Montefollonico (576m above sea level) is a small medieval village whose raison d'être is found in the past rivalries between the republics of Siena and Florence; in fact the village was born as a Sienese fortress, against the "Florentine" Montepulciano. The first evidence of the area being inhabited dates as far back the Neanderthal man

(approx. 60,000 years ago) with the Lithic tools found in the area of "Il Tondo" (now the public garden). In the following centuries we have accounts of a territorial dispute in the year 715 for the ownership of the church Pieve di San Valentino. The history of the village as such began in the XIIIth century with the foundation of the church Pieve di S. Leonardo by the Cistercian monks from the monastery nearby, who by dedicating themselves to fulling wool gave the village its name Mons a Fullonica. After various events Montefollonico was incorporated into the Tuscan Grand Duchy in 1555.


This village is perched on top of a hill in the midst of greenery near Sarteano. Since its initial founding in 1100 A.D., the town has been held by Siena, Orvieto and Perugia. Small dirt roads branch off the main road and spread out in different directions down to the Val d'Orcia below. The top of the hill exhibits traces of the larger town that

once thrived there during the Middle Ages. The only surviving church from that period, built in the Romanesque style and flanked by a bell tower, is dedicated to Sant'Andrea. The single nave contains the chapel that was consecrated in the name of St. Bonaventura.


Numerous traces of Etruscan and Roman civilizations have been found on the hill where Monticchiello is located. In the eighth century, the town was run by the San Salvatore abbey near Monte Amiata. The castle was later controlled by the Aldobrandeschi family, followed by the Forteguerri family, and then by the Church. After a feud, the Church handed it over to

the Cavalieri Teutonici, until the municipal government of Siena finally prevailed across the Val d'Orcia. For about twenty years now, the critically and publicly acclaimed "Teatro Povero" has operated in Monticchiello and has become one of the leading cultural institutions in the area. During the second half of July, the town residents put on a "self-drama", which they compose over the winter and which addresses current events, starting with the story of their own community.


Parrano, 40 Km. from Orvieto, is a picturesque and well preserved historical center clinging to the hill around a castle that dates back to the middle ages, although its history is much older. In the nearby "Devil's Caves" ("Grotte del Diavolo"), deep gullies and caverns of great interest to pot-hollers, important prehistoric finds

dating to the upper Palaeolithic and the Bronze Age have been found. Closer to us, sign of the Etruscan (finds dating to the sixth century B.C. have recently come to light) and Roman settlement are still evident. In the ninth century it become a feud and was contended by various lords and still today preserves the characteristic of the Principality which conditioned its life from the beginning. The town is 441 m. above sea level and is unique in attracting tourists both for its climate and as a spa, for the springs of sulfur-magnesic water close to the inhabited center are used in mineral water cures.


The Abbey of St.Antimo,near Castelnuovo dell'Abate, is an important example of the thirteenth-century monastic architecture.The present church,dating back to the 12th century,has a simple façade crowned with small arches, a massive square bell tower in the Lombard style with a 12th century bell, and a semicircular apse.The interior -a Romanesque basilican structure - has a nave and two aisles separated by high columns and spaced out by cruciform pillars.The abbey,restored at the beginning of the 20th century,is the seat of a comunnity of canons who officiate with Gregorian chants.


MONTE OLIVETO MAGGIORE is an early foundation of the Olivetan Order and the Abbey itself is one of the most interesting in Italy. lt stands in the very heart of Tuscany in a beautiful position 33 Km. from Siena among lofty cypresses facing a very suggestive view of the Sienese 'crete' (moors).

It was begun in 1313 by Giovanni Tolomei, later on called Bernardo, with the help of the Sienese nobles Patrizio Patrizi and Ambrogio Piccolomini who lived as hermits with Bernardo; the place at that time was know as the "deserto di Accòna" (the desert of Accona). Other hermits joined them in the process of time. The new foundation followed the Benedictine Rule and, having been approved by Guido Tarlati, the Archbishop of Arezzo in 1319, was sanctioned by Pope Clement VI in 1344.


The most beautiful and interesting sights here are due to the initiative of Vicino Orsini, who was born in this area in 1523. He ordered to build a series of whimsical and grotesque sculptures in a wonderful park, later called the Monsters' Park. When his wife Giulia Farnese died, he had a small temple built in the park in memory of her.


HOTEL SANGALLO - Bed & Breakfast - Via dei Fiori, 30
53045 S.Albino Montepulciano ( Siena ) - Tuscany - Italy
Tel +39 0578 799095 - Fax +39 0578 392141
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