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SIENA Specials - Out of town - San Quirico d’Orcia - the old town centre

Settled originally by the Etruscans, San Quirico d’Orcia stands on a hill that divides the Valle dell’Asso and the Valle d’Orcia.

The entire Medieval town of San Quirico has remained intact through the centuries, including the 15th century fortifications and their 14 defence towers.

Via Dante Alighieri corresponds to the urban section of the Via Francigena, or Via Romea.

The magnificent Collegiata church dedicated to St Quirico and St Giuditta faces onto this street and was built in the 12th century over a previously existing Romanesque church. Its two majestic Romanesque entrances are decorated with relief work and sculptures.

The interior contains a precious inlaid wood choir by the Senese Antonio Barili, as well as a triptych attributed to Sano di Pietro, depicting the Madonna With Child Enthroned With Four Saints.

Adjacent to the Collegiata stands the elegant Palazzo Chigi-Zondadari, which dates from the 17th century and contains mural paintings of the Roman School. The former Palazzo Pretorio, today the Centro Accoglienza of the Val d’Orcia Park, stands next door.

The Corso ends in Piazza della Libertà, with the Church of San Francesco that contains a statue of the Madonna by Andrea della Robbia.

In the square there is also the entrance to the 16th century formal gardens known as the Horti Leonini, after their first owner Diomede Leoni. The remains of the town’s Medieval keep, which was partly destroyed during bombardments in World War Two, stand in the higher part of the gardens.

With its typical Medieval houses, Via Poliziano leads to Porta dei Cappuccini, a massive crenellated tower.

As well as boasting artistic and natural treasures of considerable interest, San Quirico is also known for its pici, or pinci – a large variety of spaghetti made with flour and water that is fried up in a pan with garlic and hardened bread.

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