by Loretta Gallorini
Frescos, tables, paintings statues by important authors among which: Benvenuto di Giovanni, Sano di Pietro, Rutilio Manetti, Domenico Beccafumi, Guidoccio Cozzarelli, Sodoma, Santi di Tito. « Is therefore not true that, as I said, the town of Sinalunga has a great interest in the curiosity of the artist and the erudite traveller? But that’s not all...» from: G. Losi, “the traveller’s Guide...”, 1860 In an intact hilly environment with woods, rows of grapevines and of oil sloping down to the Valdichiana, Sinalunga excels for wines, oil, and the “chianina” meat.
It is surely a call for the lovers of the tourism in the country. Sinalunga origins are lost in the mists of time: the first Etruscan settlements probably date back to VII-VI century b.C. while during the Roman epoch, in the II century b.C., they were in the present Pieve of Sinalunga.
In the XI century the town belonged to the Cacciaconti, branch of the counts of the Scialenga and Berardenga. At the beginning of 1300 it entered the Sienese State and it was the center of the Vicariate and of the Captain of Justice. Because of its boundary position, it suffered sieges and devastations that culminated with the demolition of the Fortress (widened and strengthened by Gian Galeazzo visconti in the second half of the XV century) by Ferdinando I dei Medici, that prudentially reduced the area of it to a public walk that is today still called Cassero, and he gave the materials of it to the construction of the Collegiate of St. Martin in the present Piazza Garibaldi.
Among the most meaningful monuments we can quote the church of Saint Maria of the Snows of the XVII century and Saint Cross of the XVII century belonging to the Brotherhood of Mercy. The church of Saint Lucy, currently Auditorium, in the X century was the place of the meetings of the Board of the Community that the tradition calls “Concionatorio”. The Palazzo Pretorio of the XIV century, built in the first half of the XIV century with the façade and the tower both subsequently rebuilt with Tuscan cotto, was the center of the civil authority. On a side of the façade, it preserves the Medici’s coat of arms and on the right, there is the niche which shows the pillory where the convicts were exposed by the court.
The historical center is also very interesting: there is the Column of the Edicts (Marzocco 1558) and Piazza Biancalana, the heart of the narrow roads that flow to Via Spadaforte, once “camminamento” of the walls. From here you can enjoy a splendid panorama on the Valdichiana. At the foot of the steep descent of Via delle Fonti the 1265 Fonte del Castagno is to be visited, it was the only source of the ancient medieval castle.
The Town Theater Ciro Pinsuti, built in 1797 by the Accademia degli Smantellati (Academy of the Dismantled) is a small jewel of the late eighteenth century, its structure is delicate and the acoustics are good. It is devoted to the Maestro Ciro Pinsuti (1828-1888) famous musician from Sinalunga. The theater has recently been restored by the Town administration and reopened to the public in April 2002.
The Convent of St. Bernardino of the XV century set on the hill of Poggio Baldino owns beautiful tables of Guiduccio Cozzarelli and Benvenuto di Giovanni; it also preserves the image of the Madonna of the Shelter protectress of the Valdichiana. In the year 2000 it was one of the destinations of the Jubilee.
The Parish of St. Pietro al Mensulas, that is said to be founded by St. Donato bishop of Arezzo in the IV century, is a Romanesque construction with a nave and two aisles, erected on the rests of a Roman “mansio” on the Via Consolare Cassia. Inside it preserves two Roman memorial stones and a fresco of the school of Guido Cozzarelli.
Sinalunga - From the 12th Century until 1864 it was known as Asinalunga. Here the Sienese defeated the English mercenaries of Niccolo da Montefeltro in 1363; here also Garibaldi was arrested in 1867 by Vittorio Emanuele II, to prevent an ill-timed descent on Rome.
In the Piazza Garibaldi, overlooking the spectacular Valdichiana and Montepulicano to the south, is the collegiate, San Martino. The interior has large white stucco statues of saints. On the south side, the third chapel contains a 16th Century Crucifix.
To the right of the church is Santa Croce with an 18th Century facade. In the pretty interior is (right altar) a Marriage of the Virgin by the school of Luca Signorelli.
Also in the piazza is the church of Santa Maria delle Nevi with a painting attributed to Benvenuto di Giovanni. On the right of the facade of the collegiata Via Mazzini winds round to Palazzo Pretorio, in an unusual site, between two streets. It is built in brick, decorated with coats of arms and a tower. In front of the palace, a road continues down to Santa Lucia (deconsecrated; used by a musical society), which contains a fresco attributed to Benvenuto di Giovanni. Beyond is a view over the Valdichiana.