San Quirico d’Orcia is a village of Etruscan origins but its earliest written record dates back to 712 AD. From the 11th century the village grew in importance thanks to its particular geographical position and also its situation on the Via Francigena. In 1155 Frederick I known as Barbarossa camped here to meet representatives of Pope Adriano IV. In 1559 after the fall of the Siennese Republic the village swore its allegiance to Cosimo I dei Medici. In 1667 Cardinal Flavio Chigi was nominated Marquis of San Quirico by the Grand Duke Cosimo III dei Medici. Its territory is at the heart of the Val d’Orcia, a cultural landscape recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.

San Quirico is one of the most noteworthy examples of medieval architecture in the province of Siena. The Collegiate Church or Collegiata has three doorways, the first is a magnificent example of Romanesque style. The Romanesque taste is still evident in the southern doorway attributed to Giovanni Pisano while the third doorway is an admirable balance between Romanesque and Gothic styles. Inside, as well as a triptych dating from the 1400s by Sano di Pietro, there are some Baroque elements and a fine wooden choir inlaid by Antonio Barili between 1482 and 1502.
Next to the Collegiata we find Palazzo Chigi, now home to the Town Hall. Cardinal Flavio Chigi had the building constructed in the second half of the 17th century, it was designed by the Architect Carlo Fontana. In the center of the village are the splendid Horti Leonini, gardens created around 1575 by Diomede Leoni. From here we reach the «giardino delle rose», which is next to the church of S. Maria Assunta, also in Romanesque style mentioned in records dating from 1014.
The church dedicated to San Francesco, faces onto the main square, it is also known as the Chiesa della Madonna. Inside is the beautiful Madonna by Andrea della Robbia, moved here from the Chapel of Vitaleta situated between San Quirico and Pienza, as well as two wooden polychrome statues attributed to Francesco di Valdambrino.
Four kilometers south of San Quirico is Bagno Vignoni, a spa village famous for its «square of water». Bagno Vignoni was well known in medieval times and famous figures such as Saint Catherine and Lorenzo dei Medici came to stay here. The Roman pools and the mill park overlook the Val d’Orcia. In a dominating position over the valley we find the medieval stronghold of Vignoni with its Romanesque parish church. In splendid isolation, today it is a real oasis of peace and tranquility.

History and traditions

San Quirico has Etruscan origin but it’s mentioned for the first time in 712 for a quarrel between the dioceses of Siena and Arezzo, finally solved in 1220 by the Pope Onorio III whose Bulla gave the church to Martino, the bishop of Arezzo. Since XI century even more frequently we can find San Quirico named on documents attesting its increasing importance in high Middle Age thanks to its particular geographical position and, in a special way, to the influence of the Francigena way going through it. In 1155 Frederick I, known as Barbarossa, camped here to deal his emperor coronation with representatives of Pope Adriano IV. Since 1167 it was venue of the imperial vicariate and here, in 1205 for the first time, governors (Rettori) of towns forming Lega Toscana met to discuss about Montepulciano and what should have been about it. Then, in 1228 San Quirico was kingly court of Frederick II. Border area between Siena Republic and the jurisdiction of the Pope, San Quirico was for a long time a passage for armies, emperors, popes and important men.
Then, as every other castle of the Siena Republic, after having suffered for invasions, pillages and destruction, in 1559 made a loyalty vow to Cosimo I de’ Medici. In 1667 cardinal Flavio Chigi, appointed San Quirico marquis, had the town from Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici as fief.

Visiting the town

In the old center there is the wonderful Collegiata, in Romanesque style, with its two doorways, one dated in 1080 and the other in XIII century.; at the inside we can find an important triptych by Sano di Pietro. Nex to medieval Porta Nuova there are Horti Leonini, an Italian garden of 1500th.
Next the Collegiata and in front of Palazzo Pretorio, near which are visible two medieval “deadman doors”, stands the massive palace built in the second half of XVII century by cardinal Flavio Chigi. Various artists, as Domenico Paradisi and Paolo Albertini, worked there.
Going to the main square, we find the San Francesco church, better known as the Madonna church. The building, that has been readjusted many times along centuries, has Gothic items on the outside.
Horti Leonini can’t be missed, made about in 1580 by Diomede Leoni. The great Italian garden, located between the city walls and the main square, opens on a large perspective pointed out by flowerbeds.
Following the holm way skirting the wall along via Diomede Leoni, we arrive to the rose garden.
Another step in this path is the Santa Maria Assunta church, built on a ground given to the S. Salvatori abbey in 1016. it’s a magnificent one-naved church in Romanesque style, where light filters through slits of travertine monofore windows.
In front of the church there is the hospital Ospedale della Scala. It was a branch of Santa Maria della Scala in Siena and it was built as a refuge for pilgrims. In the lodge there are three thin columns and in the court a well bearing the date 1543.
We suggest to walk around the old center for the beauty of the town comes from its medieval architecture.