Asciano, Province of Siena, Tuscany, Italy
Situated in the upper valley of the Ombrone river between Siena and the Valdichianaa, Asciano is a typical medieval borough surrounded by 14th century walls
The town enjoys the typical landscape of the "crete senesi" also known as Deserto di Accona, a lunar-like series of white rocks and calanques.
Altitude: 200 mt a.s.l -- Population: ca. 7,000 inhabitants -- Zip/postal code: 53041 -- Phone Area Code: 0577 -- Patron Saint: St. Agatha celebrated on 5th February -- Frazioni & Localities: Arbia, Chiusure, Castelnuovo Scalo, Torre a Castello
In the area there were settlements since Etruscan and Roman times, as shown by the archeological site of an Etruscan necropolis of the 5th century BC, and later findings of Roman baths. In the medieval period the area was disputed between Siena and Florence, and nearby on 4 September 1260 the Battle of Montaperti, the blodiest battle in Italian medieval history, was fought between Guelph florentines and the ghibelline alliance that included Siena and was led by king Manfred, the illegitimate son of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II; the battle lasted all day and claimed over 30,000 victims, and was finally won by the Siennese, after which Asciano came under the rule of Siena and in the following century was surrounded by walls.
What to see
- the Museo d'Arte Sacra, near the Romanesque parish church of Sant'Agata, collecting 14th and 15th century works of painters and sculptors of Siena, among them by Matteo di Giovanni, A. Lorenzetti and the Osservanza Maestro.
- the Etruscan Museum, which collects items found in the Poggiopinci nectipolis and at Molinello
- the Gothic church of Sant'Agostino
- 6 miles to the south the Benedictine monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, built in red bricks, mother-house of the Olivetans founded in 1320; in the cloister a series of frescoes with scenes from the life of St. Benedict begun by Luca Signorelli and completed by il Sodoma.
- the Palio dei Ciuchi, in early september, a race among donkeys in the circuit around the stadiem, each representing one of the 7 traditional contrade
- every second Sunday in the month, a market fair called Mercatino delle Crete with stands of typical products, craftswork and antiques.
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