SIENA Sightseeing -
Terzo di San Martino district
The Terzo di San Martino district originally sprung up when settlers began building to the south-east of the Via Francigena, the road that runs through Siena and that was used by pilgrims on their way to Rome. The patron saint of this district is in fact St Martin, the protector of waywards and pilgrims. The first important expansion of this new settlement took place between the 12th and 13th century, around what is today Via Pantaneto and towards Via San Girolamo, incorporating what had previously stood as the independent fortified hamlet of Castel Montorio.
Visitors wishing to explore this district should begin their tour at the Church of San Cristoforo, in Piazza Tolomei. To the right of the church lies Via Cecco Angiolieri, one of the city’s most beautiful streets, onto which looks the complex known as Castellare degli Ugurgieri – a magnificent example of a fortified court, today the headquarters of the Contrada Priora della Civetta.
Via San Virgilio leads to Banchi di Sotto, one of the city’s finest and wealthiest streets that takes its name from the traders who lined it with their stands during the Middle Ages. Along with Banchi di Sopra, Banchi di Sotto is the urban section of the Via Francigena, which runs through Siena from the Croce del Travaglio towards Porta Romana. Going down towards Porta Romana, to the right lies Via Rinaldini, known also as the Chiasso Largo, which commands an unrivalled view of the Torre del Mangia tower. On the corner between Banchi di Sotto and Via Rinaldini stands the imposing structure of Palazzo Piccolomini, which once belonged to the eminent Piccolomini family of bankers and now houses the Archivio di Stato and the Museo delle Biccherne. On the left hand side of Via Pantaneto is the Church of San Giovannino, the oratory of the Contrada del Liocorno. To the right of the church the street leads downwards to one of the most beautiful valleys in the old city, the Valle di Follonica, with the Medieval Follonica fountain. Along Via dei Pispini stands the Church of San Gaetano, the oratory of the Nobile Contrada del Nicchio, and a little further on the Pispini fountain built in the 13th century and rebuilt in 1534. This street ends at Porta Pispini, designed in 1326 by Minuccio di Rinaldo and decorated with frescoes by Sodoma. Back towards the centre of town there is Via Roma, the final section of the Via Francigena, once the main street of the 13th century village of Santa Maria Maddalena. On the right hand side of the street stands Palazzo Bianchi-Bandinelli, built in the late 18th century. A little further on to the left is Palazzo San Galgano, which today houses the letters and philosophy faculty of the university. At the end of the street there is a small square with the Church of San Raimondo al Rifugio, built in the late 16th century. Down Via Roma in the direction of Porta Romana, to the right is the church of the Monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli, known as del Santuccio, now an education centre. Opposite, at number 50, is the Museo Bologna-Buonsignori, which houses an important collection of Etruscan ceramics once the property of Clemente Bologna di Montepulciano. To the left of Porta Romana is the museum of the Contrada di Valdimontone and then Piazza Alessandro Manzoni, with the magnificent flight of steps leading up to the Basilica dei Servi. Still further in the direction of Piazza del Campo stands the Church of San Martino, one of the city’s oldest. Towards Via del Porrione begins the Salicotto area of town, the heart of the area controlled by the Contrada della Torre. The narrow Vicolo delle Scotte leads in front of the synagogue, built in 1776, and then into Via Salicotto – the main street in the Jewish ghetto instituted by Cosimo I de’ Medici. The name of this street probably derives from the combination of the words salato and cotto, meaning respectively salted and cooked. The small streets and houses in this area of town are all very old. Some were restored in 1930, while a number of others suffered destruction.
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