Wednesday, April 15, 2015

San Quirico d'Orcia and Bagno Vignoni


 I learned about this town from our friends Janelle and Johnny and since the day was warm and sunny James and I decided to make a visit. Bagno Vignoni is located in one of the most beautiful regions of Tuscany, the Val d' Orcia.
Tiny Bagno Vignoni  is known for it's thermal spring in use as far back as Roman times. The Piscina, or pool which dominates the piazza was built  and used by the Medici family. Lorenzo d'Medici went to the thermal spa in hopes of a remedy for his gout. He was in such pain he had to be carried around  and he likely died in his 40's from complications due to gout, or so I've perhaps the thermal waters never did cure his gout.

There is a quiet serenity here created by this pool, which in itself could be calming and healing.  A walkway and handsome buildings surround the water filled piscina.
James and I found an enoteca where local cheeses and cured meats were featured, along with wines of the region. There are several places here to eat as well as a hotel that does have a thermal spa that is in use.

Rocca d'Orcia is another well preserved Medieval village that is on a hill  side in the distance towering above Bagno Vignoni. The castle makes for a spectacular focal point in the distance and must have been a very strategic location in the 12th Century.


After lunch, we drove to San Quirico d'Orcia. I have seen signs for this town for years, but we have never stopped since there has always been a different destination planned and we drive past. Today was the day for San Quirico d' Orcia.

It was after lunch, so the shops were all closed, but we were here to look at the town itself, and the churches were open as well as a rose garden. The largest church in town is the 12th Century Romanesque  Collegiata.

After a visit to the Rose Garden we discovered an allee of Ilex trees that lead to the Collegiata. Interesting to find that this was constructed to give a shady and restful place for the pilgrims walking the via Francigena, a Medieval holy route from France to Rome.

This  finely preserved well stands proud at the corner of the Collegiate

 Sandstone lions  support figures that are the columns supporting the arch. This dates somewhat later than the building itself and is attributed to Giovanni Pisano.

There was some damage to the exterior of the church during shelling in World War II.

A column supported by a Lombard lion, a very ornate portal and unusual for this region.

The Chigi Palazzo was built in 1697 for cardinal Flavio Chigi. The Chigi family were wealthy bankers in Siena and eventually Rome, where wealth, power and the church all were intertwined.

The main street,Via Dante Alighieri is lovely. It is lined with small shops and trattorias housed in buildings that date from the Medieval and the Renaissance. Due to the fact that San Quirico was on the pilgrim route there were in the 13th C. several small hospitals and hostels to care for them on route to Rome. It is said that St. Catherine of Siena stayed in a house here along the Via Dante Aligheri. 

The Val D' Orcia

Both San Quirico D 'Orcia and Bagno Vignoni are in the Val D'Orcia region of Tuscany.
The entire Val' D' Orcia is a UNESCO site. The beauty of this part of Italy is overwhelming.

The Val D'Orcia is one of my "Thin Places", a place where heaven come together.
It is hard to explain, it is a feeling that overcomes you when you are there in it's midst.
It is a powerful place who's memory lives within you even after you leave.