Marciano della ChianaLoretta Gallorini
Marciano della Valdichiana is a medieval town extraordinarily well preserved, perhaps with the most beautiful fortress in the whole district.
Uncertain is the etymological origin of the name of the town, according to some researchers it must trace back to the noble Roman family “Marcia” that was one of the most passionate supporters of the consul Silla at the time of the war against Mario and in virtue of this, at the end of the conflict, it would have obtained, as reward for the given support, the lands that would have so assumed the denomination of "fundus marcianus".
The first inhabited settlements are recorded between the V and the I century b.C. but it is just in 1250, or rather at the height of the Middle Ages, that the centre forms a solid urbanistic structure with a rectangular plant that has not suffered changes up to the present days. In the period in matter Marciano suffers in rapid sequence the dominions of Perugia, Siena and Florence but it is only under the jurisdiction of Arezzo that the country consolidates the walls of its Castle. In this period also the imposing donjon and the four cylindrical angular Towers as defence of the inhabited area are erected.
The fortress and the stately tower rise on the east side of the castle. Recent restorations have let a great medieval terracotta cistern and some underground corridors be found. The tower, that was probably the place of the command for the defence, has three rooms in the inside, with attics connected to the outside by some detachable wood staircases.
It is clear, thanks to this rapid and main point description of the urbanistic structure of the town, that the prevailing function of Marciano was that of military garrison that will be conclusive to tie itself to the Republic of Florence.
Marciano della Valdichiana took part to the war against Siena among 1553 and 1555 that culminated in the famous Battle of Scannagallo fought in August 1554, the event went down in history as Battle of Marciano because of the famous painting by Vasari. This epic battle was decisive for the victory of Florence and gave the centre of Marciano the equestrian honour of the order of the Knights of Saint Stephen and the Florentine Lily on the town coat of arms.
Marciano well preserves the walls and the doors that surround it. In the second half of 1300 the walls were made of bricks, about ten meters high, built for a lead-defence. The wall perimeter in tiles is today still largely visible in many points, on the west side of the walls is a well preserved tower that has some blind round-arch windows and a moulding with battlement.
Among the two towers is the main round-arch door surmounted by the great Medicean coat of arms made of sandstone. As you go beyond the door you enter the historical centre where the most important buildings can be seen: the Palazzo dei Priori (Palace of the Prior), the Donjon and the Castle, under restoration, the four towers and the Church of Saint Stephen and Andrew that can be visited, dating back to the fourteenth century, with nave and two aisles embellished by the seven sixteenth-century altars. On the first altar placed on the right, the painting by Bartholomeo della Gatta can be admired: Madonna with child and saints.
Walking through the narrow stone alleys of Marciano which start from the access door of the small village, situated under the Tower of the clock, you breath indeed a relaxing atmosphere that puts us again in peace with ourselves: it seems really to be in a place out of time; all that is around us transmits an unbelievable feeling of peace and serenity that would make you desire to remain forever here.
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For all those who are searching for places of interest, rich in emotions and continuous discoveries, Foiano della Chiana represents a true and unique mine of curiosities and itineraries.