Monte San Savino

Monte San Savino is a gem from the Renaissance located in the Chiana valley near Arezzo, it developed from a preexistent Etruscan and Roman settlement. During the conflict between Guelphs and Ghibellines,  Monte San Savino hosted the exiled Guelphs from Arezzo both in the second half of the 13th century and the first part of the 14th century. The Tarlati, lords of Arezzo, punished the city’s filoguelphism with the dismantlement of the city walls. In the following years the walls were rebuilt but the city was conquered by Perugia in 1336, coming back under the control of Arezzo in 1380. After three years, the Senese took control of Monte San Savino and from 1384 it was permanently acquired by Florence.

During the 15th century, the Ciocchi di Monte family rose to power and it aimed to transform the town into a Renaissance model city and the family reached its peak during the 16th century with Giovanni Maria di Monte who was elected Pope in 1550 with the name Giulio III. Following this election, Cosimo I de’ Medici granted the hamlet as county to Baldovino di Monte, who governed until 1556. Then Monte San Savino was passed to his son Fabiano with whom the line died out. After that, the governors of the city were the Orsini family from 1604 to 1640 and Mattias de’ Medici followed in 1643. The town then stayed under the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, ruled at first by the Medicis and then by the Lorena, until the Union of Italy.

It is possible to enter the city and admire its sights from four gates: Porta Fiorentina, Porta Romana, Porta San Giovanni and Porta Senese, the last also called “Porticciolo Guglielmi”. Through the gates, the visitor is surrounded by a city centre composed by alleys and quarters in which the traces of the Middle Ages and Renaissance are still visible. Gamurrini square houses the Cassero, the remains of the fortification of the 14th century; from 1989 inside it there is a museum with ceramics, paintings and sculptures from various times and also an archaeological section. Some rooms are used for different purposes. Also from the 14th century are the Old Town Hall and the Civic Tower.

During the 16th century, the Logge dei Mercanti and the Palazzo Di Monte in Corso Sangallo were built; the latter has a hanging garden that is over a big water tank from 16th century, used to collect water but has also a walk in it and is divided in two aisles covered with barret vaults.

The 17th century saw the formation, in Monte San Savino, of the most important jew community in the territory of Arezzo but they were forced to abandon the city during the Viva Maria revolution of 1799. Nowadays this community is remembered via the ruins of the Jew Cemetery, called Campaccio, out of the town, and the remains of the synagogue inside the ghetto of via Salomon Fiorentino.

The main Christian religious building is the fourteenth-century Church of Sant’Agostino, expanded between 1515 and 1525 according to a design by Andrea Sansovino. It is rich in works ranging from the late fourteenth century to the last century, such as the beautiful “Assumption of the Virgin and Saints Augustine and Romuald” from 1539 by Giorgio Vasari, created after his return from a fruitful trip to Rome.

Other religious sites worth mentioning are st. Egidio and Savino’s parish church, built during the second half of the 12th century that since 1851 houses the Confraternita della Misericordia, st. Giovanni’s church from the 15th century and st. Chiara’s church, nowadays a small museum of works of art from desecrated churches and old palaces present in town.

Continuing the list of the beauties of the town, st. Anna’s church, made at the end of the 16th century, the church of the Intercession (chiesa del Suffragio) and the church of the Immaculate Conception (chiesa dell’Immacolata Concezione), both from the 17th century with the latter being a church inside an old Benedictine monastery, and st. Giuseppe’s church, from the 1800s.

Near Monte San Savino there are: the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Vertighe (santuario di Santa Maria delle Vertighe), patron of the highway A1, that has a 13th century triptych made by Margarito and Ristoro di Arezzo; the majestic Castle of Gargonza from the 12th century where also Dante was from time to time, and the hamlets of Palazzuolo, Verniana, Pastina

Palazzo Di Monte

Palazzo Di Monte

Logge dei Mercanti

Logge dei Mercanti

Rocca dell’Ajalta

Civic Tower

Porta Fiorentina

Cisternone

Cisternone

Church of Sant’Agostino, Assunzione della Vergine con i Santi Agostino e Ronualdo by Giorgio Vasari (1539)

Assunzione della Vergine by Giorgio Vasari (1539)

Cloister of the Church of Sant’Agostino

Natività, Luca della Robbia (XVI secolo), Church of Santa Chiara

Madonna con bambino by Andrea Sansovino (c. 1490), Church of Santa Chiara

Sant’Antonio Abate, Della Robbia school (early 16th century), Church of Santa Chiara

San Lorenzo tra Rocco e Sebastiano by Andrea Sansovino (c. 1490), Church of Santa Chiara

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