Things to do in Chiusi, Etruscan town in Val di Chiana
29 December 2017
On top of a hill in the extreme south of the Val di Chiana there is the destination we suggest for an itinerary in the surroundings of our hotel: Chiusi, a town renowned for its Etruscan remains, its churches and palaces dating back to XV and XVI centuries.
Chiusi is only 21 km far from Montepulciano and is bordering with Umbria, so it’s a destination recommended for those who want to explore the southern side of Val di Chiana, easily reachable by train or car.
To know what to see during a short tour of Chiusi, follow the path we have prepared.
The rare archaeological finds in ChiusiDid you know that the original name of Chiusi was Chamars and that had its period of maximum splendor from the VII to the V century BC, in particular under the rule of king Porsenna, who managed to besiege Rome?
The strategic position and the fertility of the soil have been the elements that have determined the importance of Chiusi since the age of the Etruscans.
About the archaeological finds, in the woods and in the surrounding countryside thousands of catacombs have been found, especially during the excavations done in XIX century, and it was discovered that Chiusi was one of the main towns of the Etruscan dodecapoli, that is the 12 independent city-states of ancient Etruria.
To find out more, a visit to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale Etrusco, in via Porsenna 93, is a must. Divided into three sections in which the history of Chiusi can be traced through the collections of vases, earthenware and funerary sculptures, the museum also hosts the Attic ceramics, the large black-figure amphorae and the skyphos of the Painter of Penelope with scenes from the myth of Ulysses.
The admission ticket also includes a visit to the still intact Etruscan catacombs, such as the Tomb of the Lion, the Tomb of the Pilgrim and the famous Tomb of the Monkey.
Legendary attraction is that you can visit in the basement of the Cathedral Museum, in Piazza Duomo. The Porsenna Cathedral-Labyrinth is a network of tunnels that crosses the old town, so defined by the archaeologists who discovered it thinking they had found the mysterious Porsenna mausoleum. This probably was the water distribution system excavated by the Etruscans.
The Museum which leads to the Labyrinth is dedicated to works of art and artifacts from the II to the XX century, exhibited on 3 floors.The Concattedrale di San Secondiano is the main church of Chiusi and dates back to the VI century, it was then deeply transformed i XII century and renovated at the end of the XIX century.
To the left of the Cathedral you can admire the tower of San Secondiano, built in the XII century and transformed into a bell tower in 1585.
From Piazza del Duomo we suggest walking along via Porsenna, because here are some of the most beautiful historical buildings in Chiusi: the Bonci Casuccini palace, the former Fanelli palace, now known as Baldetti, dating back from XV century and the Della Ciaia palace, dating back from XVI century. Continuing along Via Arunte you arrive at the Prato from which you can enjoy a picturesque view, also here you can see the Fortress built in the XII century, now private property.
The Chiusi Lake
The protected natural area of Lake Chiusi is an essential stop for tourists who want to combine historical attractions with natural wonders.
This lake is an oasis of quietness just a few kilometers from the town and, together with Lake of Montepulciano, is defined as one of the “Chiari” of the Val di Chiana, that is what remains of the ancient swamp, now reclaimed. At the piers of the lake you can find fishermen or children playing. Surrounded by grove of reeds that were once more extensive, the lake is home to many species of fish and waterfowl, many water lilies and native plants.
The Chiusi lake measures around 300 hectares, with a maximum depth of 5 meters; it is possible to explore by sailing on small rowing boats.
Near the lake you can follow the Sentiero della Bonifica, the long trail that can be traveled on foot or by bike that goes as far as Arezzo and crosses all the Val di Chiana countryside where the land reclamation was carried out.
Further information on the Wwf website: www.wwf.it.
If you stay in Montepulciano for a weekend or a longer period, Chiusi is a nice place to discover, if you are passionate of archaeological and nature trails.