On the eastern slopes of the mountain bearing the same name, Cetona has retained its medieval structure, whith roads, alleys and stairways all leading to the fortress which dominates it.
The local economy is mainly agricultural, but tourism as also been actively developed. Many famous people from the words of economics, theatre, fashion and culture live here in their renovated country homes and villas.
Whitin only 5 km of the town can be found one of the oldest settlements in central Italy, dating back 40.000 years, and today known as the Parco archeologico naturalistico di Belverde. There are 25 prehistoric caves and the largest of these Saint Francis prayed.
The Museo Civico contains remains from the bronze age collected from the area around the caves. In the next village, piazze, the romanic Collegiate church contains frescos by Pinturicchio.
The town stands on the top of a hill which overlooks the splendid Val d'Orcia. Enea Silvio Piccolomini was born here in 1405 and when he became pope Pius II in 1458 he decided to transform his modest village into the perfect town, an admirable example of the humanistic period, and entrusted the design to Bernardo Rossellino.
Piazza Pio II is intact, incorporanting the most rigorous of Renaissance perspective, and containing the cathedral and Palazzo Piccolomini.
The town's main axis is corso Rossellino, lined with houses built by the nobility in the 14th century. Pienza is a mainly agricultural centre, particularly famous for its pecorino cheese. The traditional cheese show, "fiera del cacio" takes place on the first Sunday in September.
The flower show "Pienza e i fiori" takes place in mid May. Also to be visited is Monticchiello, made famous by its "Teatro povero", a new play anacted each summer by the local inhabitants.
This spa town, which specialises in the treatment of liver disorders, is among the most famous in Italy.
The special properties of the waters of Chianciano is not far from the spa centre with its hotels, shops, treatment centres and elegant parks where the therapeutic waters emerge: "acqua Sillene" is here are fulfilling and pleasant and dedicated to health and fitness.
More than 2 million people visit Chianciano every year.
Cultural attractions include the Museo Etrusco, soon to be opened, and the Museo della Collegiata.
Also to be seen are the collegiate church of S.Giovanni Battista, built in 1229 and restored in 1809, the church of the Compagnia (1517), the Torre dell'Orologio with Medici crest and the church of Madonna della Rosa (1585) designed by B. Lanci.
One of the twelve cities of the Etruscan League-substantial fragments of its primitive cyclopean defences can still be seen, incorporated in the medieval walls. Apart from a few fine Renaissance palaces, the prevailing character of Cortona's architecture is medieval, conferring on the steep narrow streets a strong sense of atmosphere.
The city is commandingly situated (altitude 600 metres) and there are magnificent panoramas to every point of the compass, embracing the whole of the Val di Chiana. Prominent among many art works of various periods in the Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca are the Etruscan Chandelier known as the "lamp of Cortona", one of the most celebrated bronzes of antiquity, and the "Polyhymnia Muse", an encaustic painting of the Roman era, of Remarkable beauty.
The Museo Diocesano displays works by Luca Signorelli, distinguished Renaissance painter and native of Cortona, and a much-admired "Annunciation" by Beato Angelico.
The most important medieval buildings are the churches of San Francesco and San Domenico and The Palazzo Casali, which has a renaissance facade. In these, and in the Renaissance churces of Santa Maria Nuova and San Niccolò, valuable works of art are preserved.
In Etruscan times, on the southern edge of the Valdichiana, stood the town of Chamars, powerful enough, in that period, to defeat Rome.
In the historical centre, with its medieval architecture as well as styles of the granduchy, remains of the Roman structure can still be seen which were built on top of yhe pre-existing etruscan town. The Museo archeologico nazionale contains excellent Etruscan finds and Greek ceramics from the contryside around Chiusi; the funeral urns and sarcophagi are particularly interesting.
It is possible to visit the catacombs and Etruscan necropolises; the tomba del Leone (6th century b.C.) and the tomba della Pellegrina (5th century b.C.) are open. Definitely worth visiting are the Museo della Cattedrale and the "labirinto di Porsenna", underground water passages built by the Etruscan and including a large cistern which leads to the romanic cathedral bell tower.
There are four neighbouring localities: Macciano, Montallese, Montevenere and Querce al Pino. Festivals: The festival of Santa Mustiola with its palio delle Torri and the September wine festival.
Castiglione del Lago
Numerous and widely-scattered archaeological finds prove that ever since Etruscan times the Castiglione area, ruled by Chiusi, was primarily dedicated to the production of wheat. Around the 7th century A.D. the promontory proved to be a formidable defensive outpost for the Byzantine Duchy of Perugia against the neighbouring Longobard territory of Tuscany.
Later Arezzo, Cortona and Perugia fought for the possession of Castiglione, which was finally subjected by Perugia. In the 1617 Castiglione became a duchy until 1648, when the area was taken over by the Apostolic Chamber of the Papal States. Rocca del Leone. This fortress, probably designed by Frate Elia Coppi, was built in 1247. The Pentagonal walls are sectioned off by four square and one triangular towers.
Palazzo della Corgna. The 16th-century architect Jacopo Barozzi, called "Il Vignola", built this structure incorporanting the ancient houses of the formerly-powerful Baglioni family and the existing defensive walls. The covered battlements that connect the Palace to the Fortress add to the typically feudal atmosphere of the place.
The Niccolò Circignani, called "il Pomarancio", began painting in 1574 in the "Hall of the Judgements of Paris" and in the "Hall of the Fall of Phaeton". He and Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi painted the "Room of the Aeneid". The bizarre decoration of the "Room of the Metamorphoses" are particularly interesting.