Marciano della Chiana, a fortified town in the heart of the Chiana valley, is on a hill from which it overlooks a vast country area.
The Etruscan presence in around Marciano is well documented by the rich necropolises and important finds such as the “Torso of Marciano”, a statue made of stone that represents a warrior made in the 6th century BC that is kept in the Archaeological Museum “G. C. Mecenate” of Arezzo. Even during Roman times this was a strategic place; it is thought that the Gens Marcia had here some farmlands and the name “Marciano” derived from the name of this powerful aristocratic Roman family.
The swamping of Chiana valley during the early Middle Ages led the inhabitants of the Marciano area to move to the hills; during the 11th century, two important castles were documented, the Cesa castle, owned by the bishops of Arezzo, and the Marciano castle, cited in an inventory of 1084 among the assets of the Abbey of st. Quirico of the roses but probably built by the Lombards.
After becoming a free town, during the 13th century, Marciano ended up under the control of Arezzo. During these times, the fortilice was enlarged and a new enclosing wall, a fortification and four towers were built. Thanks to its peculiar strategic location, the castle was the point of many contentions between Arezzo, Siena and Florence throughout the 14th century until 1382 when it was conquered by Siena, that further modified the fortress, and permanently, 1384, Florence conquered Marciano, that strengthened and updated the fortifications once more.
On the 2nd of August 1554, close to Marciano, the Battle of Scannagallo took place. The Florentine army, alongside their Spanish allies, warded off the Senese, led by Piero Strozzi, supported by the French army. The battle, frescoed by Giorgio Vasari in the Hall of Five Hundred in Palazzo Vecchio, set forth the hegemony of Florence on Tuscany and consequently the birth of the Grand Duchy.
During a visit to Marciano, it is possible to look at the Castle, one of the most important and peculiar examples of military architecture of the territory of Arezzo, with its geometrical standard structure and its significant use of bricks. The entrance to the castle is a door with a bell tower on top. Inside, the urban centre is dominated by the mighty fortress that nowadays is used as a multi-purpose building where there is a permanent exhibition about the Battle of Scannagallo with costumes, armors, weapons and a three-dimensional representation of the battle itself.
Visitors can also see an installation with an immersive 360° video experience and sensorial interfaces that convey tactical sensations.
The main religious building in Marciano is the church of st. Stefano and Andrea, built in the 11th century but restored at the end of the 16th century and again during the 18th century. It is a Latin cross plan church with three aisles and a square apsis. Inside it there are some works of art such as the “Madonna with child and saint Giacomo and Cristoforo” by Bartolomeo della Gatta, completed in 1486. Also in Marciano there is the 16th-century church of the Holy Cross (ss. Crocifisso), in franciscan style, with a covered walkway and doric columns, that was consecrated to the Holy Annunciation some time before. The current building is deconsecrated and turned into a big hall, is a restoration subsequent to the damages dealt to the structure by the retreat of the German troops in 1944.
The territory of Marciano has also some other interesting places to visit like Cesa, where there is the ancient rural church of St. Lucia and Michele Archangel; the building was restored and enlarged in 1712 and it reached the rank of Pieve in 1772. Inside it there are some works of Salvi Castellucci, an apprentice of Pietro da Cortona, from the 17th century. The church of st. Bartolomeo in Badicorte was owned by an abbey in the 12th century, but it was damaged during the 2nd World War. During the 1950s it was reconstructed, preserving the parts that were not damaged such as the evocative Romanesque apsis.
The entrance gate with the clock tower and the coat of arms featuring the Florentine lily.
The clock tower
Church of Saints Stephen and Andrew
Crucifixion with the Madonna and Saints Andrew and Stephen, anonymous, mid-17th century.
Church of Saints Stephen and Andrew, Madonna and Child with Saints James and Christopher by Bartolomeo della Gatta (1486)
Battle of Scannagallo or Battle of Marciano (1511/ 1574), Giorgio Vasari, salone dei 500, Florence
Battle of Scannagallo, Temple of Santo Stefano della Vittoria, Bartolommeo Ammannati (1569), Pozzo della Chiana
Battle of Scannagallo (2 agosto 1554), scale model of the battle displayed in the Rocca di Marciano