Asciano is a marvellous town under the municipality of Siena, in the Tuscany region. The town is located just between the River Ombrone and the Torrent Copra, at the center of Crete Senesi: a particular and very suggestive hill area on the south-eastern side of Siena, almost bare of vegetation, but plenty of alternating coves and “biancane” (typical clayey, porous and light-coloured soil), that seem to create a moonscape. From the Middle Age, this area was known as “Deserto di Accona” where today, thanks to some important irrigation works, it is possible the cultivation of wheat and sunflowers.
Asciano has Etruscan and Roman origins: you will in fact be able to admire a fascinating Etruscan necropolis, dated back at the V century BC and the remains of Roman baths. The town used to be contended between Siena and Florence in the Battle of Montaperti, until 1285, when it was conquered by Siena and surrounded by boundary walls in 1351, in order to protect it from further invasions.
You cannot miss the Romanesque collegiate church of St Agata, which is the most important church in Asciano. It dates back at XII-XIX century and it's composed by a nave with apsis transept, covered by cross vaults. On the left you will find the marvellous Lombard bell-tower. The façade is divided into three parts by ogive arches. The church reveals inside, two masterpieces, two sixteenth century frescos: a Madonna with the Infant Jesus, the Archangel Michael and the donor, made by disciples of Sodoma; and the Pietà, maybe attributable to Riccio.
Beside the Collegiate Church of St Agata there is the Museum of Holy Art, an exhibition of works dated at XIV and XV centuries, made by painters of the Sienese school. The Archaeological Museum contains remains from a number of tombs of the Poggio Pinci cemetery.
Moving to the South, a large Benedictine monastery overlooks the hill of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, which is famous for being the original village for the locals: the Olivetans. The monastery was named Monte Oliveto Maggiore to distinguish it from successive foundations at Florence, San Gimignano, Naples and elsewhere. Nowadays, It is still the mother house of the order or congregation.
Talking about events and local culture, we have to remind every tourist to enjoy and fully live the Ascianese September, which is when the town gets alive thanks to variegate program of typical markets, parties and concerts.
There is a famous exhibition of clay pots which take place every second Sunday of the month in the old centre of the town. You will find not only pots, but also organic food and wine from the local area as well as handicrafts.
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