Cetona, Tuscany. Suzy Jarvis photo.

Cetona, close to Montepulciano, Pienza and the Val d’Orcia, dominates the valley. The wonder of Cetona lies in the naturalness with which the stone of its buildings blends with the almost pictorial delicateness of the Tuscan landscape.

Cetona is a town and comune in the southern part province of Siena, Tuscany, in an area where Umbria and Lazio meet.
The geographical elevation is between 250 metres and the 1,148 metres of Monte Cetona itself, at the base of which the town is situated at around 350 metres.
Some of the oldest human settlements of central Italy were discovered at the base of Monte Cetona, such as the early neo-Paleolithic Gosto cave (40 – 80th century BC). There are several sites of Etruscan finds.
The wonder of Cetona lies in the naturalness with which the stone of its buildings blends with the almost pictorial delicateness of the Tuscan landscape.

One need only go up the narrow stone-paved streets, called “coste,” or enter inside the “citadel,” the ancient cluster of buildings overlooking the Renaissance square, to understand the poetry of this place, described as a “joy of serene forms” by Piero Grassini (Cetona e il suo ambiente, 1986), capable of evoking the lost ghosts of time, among medieval passions and naturalistic suggestions.

The countryside surrounding Cetona is so beautiful that it almost seems to be a painting of the ideal Renaissance landscape.

The walls once had three circuits, and today the round Rivellino tower, built in the mid-16th century, is the most important remaining trace of the third circuit. The urban structure bears the mark of the wars in the Middle Ages, when Siena and Orvieto battled each other for control of Cetona.

Toward the middle of the 1500s, the construction of the square today named after Garibaldi as the new access to the medieval village was the realization of a dream. The dreamer and driving force behind the Renaissance renewal of Cetona was Gian Luigi Vitelli, also known as Chiappino. Named marquis by the Medici, he wanted to play the part of the good governor by building this oval-shaped piazza, strangely much too big for such a tiny village.

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