Chianciano Terme can
trace its history back to the 5th century BC and the Etruscans, who
had built a temple dedicated to the god of Good Health, close to the
Silene springs where the newer quarter of Chianciano (the
Termesection) stands today.
News of the curative power of Chianciano's water became well known
during Roman times, as Horace visited the area on the advice of his
physician during the 1st century BC. Luxurious Roman villas were
built in the area near the thermal baths.
There is little archaeological evidence of much activity during the
Middle Ages, but, by the 12th and 13th centuries, Chianciano
belonged to the Manenti Counts, Lords of Sarteano. Its position
close to the Via Francigena (the medieval main connection from Rome
to France) fostered its development, and Chianciano reached a degree
of judicial autonomy by 1287 when it established its own statutes.
In the 14th century, the city states of Orvieto and Siena contended
for it, with Siena being the ultimate victor.
The first decades of the 20th century saw the area around the
springs (the Terme section) draw the attention of developers.
Between 1920 and 1930 neoclassical establishments with
Pompeian-style bowers were built, then destroyed in 1940 when the
Fascist-controlled state took possession. While under state control,
a new town plan was designed by architects Loreti and Marchi, who
also designed some spas in the Acqua Santa Park. The town plan was
adjusted by the Town Technical Office of Chianciano in 1958 and
passed in 1961
Present day Chianciano
Terme has two distinct areas. Chianciano Vecchia (Ancient Chianciano)
is located atop a small hill. The Porta Rivellini, with its elegant
Renaissance structure, is the main gateway into the town at the end
of the Via Dante. In contrast to this is the modern quarter, the
Terme, whose nucleus has grown around the thermal springs and
stretches northward in a crescent shape along the Vale della Libertà
towards the older city.
The Church of the Immacolata, restored in 1588 after the Florentine
conquest of Siena, once housed the paintings Annunciation by Niccolò
Betti, Holy Family by Galgano Perpignani, and a fresco of Madonna of
the Peace attributed to Luca Signorelli. These works are currently
all in the museum of the Collegiata Church of San Giovanni Battista,
a Romanesque-Gothic building with a notable portal. It houses a Holy
Scene fresco (16th century), a 14th-century crucifix, and a wooden
Dead Christ by Giuseppe Paleari (1783). The church of Madonna della
Rosa takes its name ("Madonna of the Rose") from a fresco portraying
the Virgin giving a Rose to the Child, the work of a 15th-century
Sienese master. Also from a Sienese artist is the Madonna delle
Carceri (14th century).
Today, the Terme section is considered among the finest health
resorts in Italy with its parks, numerous hotels and especially its
therapeutic water that is reputed to cleanse the liver via an
increase in the production and excretion of liver bile. Among the
more notable spas are Acqua Santa, Acqua Fucoli, Acqua Sillene,
Acqua Santissima (which also advertises itself as a spa for those
with respiratory problems), and Acqua Sant'Elena (which advertises
that the calcic-alkaline bicarbonate in its water can treat kidney
and urinary tract problems).
The Chianciano Museum of Art is also an interesting attraction, with
a large collection of contemporary and ancient art, including many
pieces of historical interest. It has been praised by art journals
and newspapers around the world, including the New York Times