San Casciano dei Bagni

Latitude: 42.871555| Longitude: 11.875334 | Altitude 582 meters

San Casciano dei Bagni is the third largest municipality in Europe for the flow of thermal water, and derives its symbol and name from its thermal springs. Legend has it that it was Porsenna who founded the Bagni Chiusini and that the emperor Ottaviano Augusto came here to treat himself. The pleasant combination of thermal water, clayey soil and rich vegetation allowed human settlement on the hill of San Casciano Bagni. The ex voto in the Cassianensi rooms, the large area known as “suburbium” next to the ancient parish church of Santa Maria ad balnea, and the ancient fortress confirm this hypothesis. With the rebirth of Italian thermal tourism in the 13th century, the thermal structures around the springs of Ficoncella and Bagno Grande were improved, leaving the pre-inhabited centre newfound life. At that time, San Casciano became the residence of the local feudal family Visconti di Campiglia, who tried to maintain their independence from Siena and Orvieto until the final submission to Siena in 1412. Since Siena granted various privileges to its newly conquered territories, in this period the thermal baths prospered. After the raid by the troops of Vitellozzo Vitelli in 1494, a period of wars began and led to the Medici family domain in almost all of the Tuscan territory during the second half of 1500.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, a local nobility linked to Siena settled in and led to the improvement and embellishment of the palaces where they lived. The Palazzo Arcipretura was built in this period and became the chapter house of the Collegiate church of San Leonardo. The Palazzo Pubblico was realized in the same period and has housed the city authorities since the mid-fifteenth century.
Aurelio Manni lived during this period; he was a local who became one of the principal collaborators of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. At the beginning of the 17th century the thermal baths had a new momentum and attracted people from all over Europe. To underline the baths prestige, in 1607 Ferdinando de’ Medici had a portico built on the source of Ficoncella. Later the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo I d’Asburgo Lorena had a new road built to connect the area with the Roman road (the present Cassia). In 1777 San Casciano dei Bagni, Celle sul Rigo, Fighine, Camporsevoli and Piazze were gathered under one single municipality (the last two would then be transferred to Cetona). Later in time, failure to comply with the new thermal standards led San Casciano dei Bagni to a gradual decline and a secondary role if compared to the nearby thermal towns. After this the rebirth of the territory took place starting from the 30s of the last century.

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It has been the main church in San Casciano dei Bagni since the year 1000 when it took the place of the early-Christian parish church Santa Maria ad balnea. At the time, three priests called Porzionari of San Guglielmo linked to the monk convent of Guglielmiti in Acerona ran the church. In 1618, it was elevated to the rank of Insigne Collegiata, and the 17th and 18th centuries have been its heyday. At the time Italian and foreign bishops and cardinals used the church during their stay in San Casciano dei Bagni for thermal treatments.
Over the centuries, the Insigne Collegiate of San Leonardo has undergone various changes in its architectural structure. In its original form the church was arranged along the west / east axis, in place of the current south / north orientation. The entrance was on the side occupied today by the Oratory of Sant’Antonio. It is likely that in the 16th century when the Compagnia di S. Antonio was founded and the relative church was built, the Collegiata was given its current orientation. The main altar covered by a canopy, the choir, and the rose window on the façade were created after the church’s renovation and an organ was installed. Following this change an organist and music teacher were then hired. The bell tower was built in 1606 thanks to the Compagnia di S. Antonio that used the funds raised for the foundation of a nun monastery to build the bell tower.
Between 1750 and 1775, the church once again underwent substantial modifications thanks to the brothers Sebastiano and Bernardino Barchi. This work made necessary by the serious structural instability that threatened the ruin of the church, gave it the appearance it has today. All except for the main altar and the facade restored in 1948.
Inside the Collegiata there is an altarpiece depicting the Coronation of the Virgin with angels and the saints Caterina da Siena, Giovanni Battista, Cassiano, Leonardo, Santa Martire and two other saints. Pietro di Francesco Orioli realized this masterpiece around 1490. Other artworks are preserved inside the Collegiata; three altarpieces depicting San Sebastiano, San Michele Arcangelo and Madonna with Child, a table depicting San Cassiano and two paintings depicting San Giovanni Battista and the Flight into Egypt. In the sacristy there are many historic relics, mostly gifted by the prelates who were staying in San Casciano. Particularly interesting are the decorations of the holy water stoups. Images of toads and snakes that flee from the water are engraved here, this symbolism is characteristic of San Casciano dei Bagni; in fact we find it also inside the churches of the Santa Concezione and of Santa Maria della Colonna.

Sant’Antonio church is adjacent to the Collegiata and was home to the homonymous company. We do not know the exact period it was built, but its company was already active in the middle of the 16th century. Found in the records of the historical municipal archive there is proof that the company helped two locals injured during the Siena war.
The church of Sant’Antonio underwent various architectural changes, especially during the 18th century. In 1741 the staircase connecting Sant’Antonio church to the Collegiata was moved, and in 1748 major changes to the internal appearance of the church were realized. the church was given a Baroque appearance thanks to the construction of the circular apse and the columns in faux travertine. Ten years later master Pietro Sperone finished the stuccos that adorn the apse.
Inside there is a wooden statue of a Madonna with Child, accompanied by some contemporary art works by the Iranian artist Bizhan Bassiri.

Built in the 16th century it was the residence of the local priests and it continues to perform this function even today. Originally the parish of San Casciano was ruled by three porzionari, in1618 the Chapter of the Collegiata was established and six canons and an archpriest were assigned to this parish.
The cardinal family Parracciani financed the building. On the façade, there is the grand dukes of Lorraine emblem which was placed in the church during the frequent visits that the Grand Dukes made to San Casciano.

The church was home to the homonymous company that was founded between the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century. It has largely preserved the original 16th century appearance, and it contains a fresco by Pomarancio depicting Adam and Eve and the origin of the original sin. Here is buried the blessed Pietro, who died from cold in 1638 on the steps of this church.

The Church is one of the oldest parishes of the entire Diocese of Chiusi and dates back to the 4th-5th century. It is part of a complex of early-Christian parish churches listed in a Bull by Pope Celestine III of 1191.Tradition states it was built on the remains of an ancient pagan temple.
When the church lost its parish function in favour of the insigne Collegiata di San Leonardo, it was used for celebrations for the baths costumers treating themselves at the thermal baths.
The inside of the church is characterized by a unique 14th century canopy altar with numerous frescoes of the Siena and Umbrian schools, and an interesting image of the Madonna dating back
to the Byzantine age.

Modern fountain and sculpture by the Iranian artist Bizhan Bassiri.

The Cassianensi rooms host the archaeological materials from Balena necropolis dating back to the 2nd and the 1st centuries BC. The relics here displayed come from a small votive stipe near Doccia della Testa spring and from the rich, but there is little-known archaeological heritage of San Casciano dei Bagni. The name Stanze Cassianensi is comes from the local 18th century antique tradition. The exhibition is divided into two levels and was open to the public in 2013. At the first level of the exposition visitors will find the scientific data accompanied by a model reproducing the excavation area to experience an emotional visit and to know how the necropolis was organized. The upper room contains significant archaeological finds and findings from the excavation area. The Cassianensi Rooms are located in the beautiful Palazzo Comunale.

 

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The Palazzo Comunale is located at the top of the historic centre of San Casciano dei Bagni.
The thickness of the external wall proves its ancient defensive function in the most critical point of the fortified system that once protected San Casciano dei Bagni. The city centre is encircled by a deep torrent, with exception made for its southern part where the palace rises. The Palace was defended by a tower that today, is incorporated into the tower of the Castle.
Since the 16th century the western side of ​​the old town has been called Contrada Castello, proving the presence of a fortified structure, which originally was part of the Visconti di Campiglia residence (the family dominating San Casciano dei Bagni until the 15th century). It was here that the Visconti moved in the moments of greatest crisis with Siena, here they swore loyalty to the emperor Manfredi and signed the peace with Siena in the aftermath of their defeat with the Guelph troops in Montaperti. Giovanni, the last descendant of the Visconti family, disappeared. The Palace was then the seat of the General Council, the Magistrate of the Priors, the Chancellery and other public offices. Starting from 1412 when they were submitted to Siena, part of the Palace became the residence of the Podestà, the Siena citizen appointed annually by the regent Republic of Siena, and then from 1559 by the Grand Duke of Tuscany.
The Palazzo had a core position in the villagers’ life, as it rises in the square where the markets were held and where even today, one of the two cisterns that ensured the water supply is located. In times of crisis and sieges these two cisterns were essential for survival.
A column in the Palace facade preserves the memory of the market; it contains the local measure sticks called “braccio” and “passetto”, respectively 64 and 89 centimetres.
The façade and the entrance hall of the Palazzo Comunale preserve the emblems of some of the most important Podestà who succeeded each other from 1412 to 1777.
In 1631, the Podesta Fabio Manni had the facade embellished. He was a descendant of Aurelio Manni and one of the most illustrious people of the village, he was a trusted man of Cosimo de’ Medici, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, who entrusted Aurelio with the delicate task of managing the first years of coexistence of the State of Siena under Florence. Once he completed the task, he became a Fiscal Auditor in Florence, one of the most important offices in the city and was the only one from Siena to have ever held it.
Today only the central part of the ancient Palazzo Comunale remains public. It is divided into three floors and hosts the Council Chamber, the municipal offices and other spaces for representation and meetings. The development of private homes and the construction of the Castle have reduced and modified the structure. The enlargement realized in the first years of the last century for the construction of the new internal stairway has largely consumed the external lizza.

Located in via Muzia, it was the residence of the Fabbrucci family who were master blacksmiths and one of the most ancient and rich families in San Casciano dei Bagni.
In 1559 when the new Lira was issued, the family had 1944 florins, and was the 6th richest family after the Manni, the Priori, the Starni (which alone held 21% of the real estate of the territory with a respective amount of 4570, 3555 and 3081 florins), the Drelli and the heirs of Giovanni (with 2023 and 2022 florins).
In the 16th century, the family surname was probably in a process of adjustment. As seen in the family burial stone we find it recorded as Fabbretti, while in the documents kept in the municipal archives, we find Fabbrucci.
The most important member of the family was Pamfilo, son of Bartolomeo and brother of Vincenzo, Bernardino and Agnolo (the latter was the only one to continue the profession of blacksmith). He was the commander of the local troops at the time of the war between Siena and Florence in 1553-1555 and during the subsequent resistance of Siena to Montalcino between 1555 and 1559. After the war and back in San Casciano dei Bagni, he played a major role in the civilian administration of our land, having always an active and proactive role in the city assemblies. The tomb of Pamfilo is located in the Collegiate of San Leonardo.

At the end of the 18th century, the Georgofili Accalorati Academy was already active in San Casciano dei Bagni and had built a theatre before 1785. A plea from the Academy to the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo to preserve its theatre dates back to that period.
Between 1936 and 1937, the theatre became the local Casa Del Fascio and underwent major transformations. The project by the architect Alfredo Corradini has turned the theatre’s layout upside down and a new gallery has been created on the opposite side of the original one. After the Second World War, the upper floor hosted the offices of the Siena craftsmanship and of various political parties. Before its closure due to unsuitability, the theatre was used as a cinema until 1979 and as a rehearsal room for the local philharmonic until 1983.
After an appropriate and substantial restoration by the architect Giampiero Chiucini, the theatre restored its activity in 1999 proposing itself as an ideal space for small shows and public initiatives.
Today the association Te.Bo manages the theatre, which organizes the winter theatre seasons in collaboration with the Boni Theater of Acquapendente.
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