Walking the historic centre ways

The historic center of Lucignano consists of an upper part in which are concentrated the public and religious buildings and a lower part, which follows the circular pattern of the walls, where the daily life of the inhabitants is spent. Many treasures are hidden along the narrow streets, but the main one, the famous Golden Tree, is preserved within the Municipal Museum at the top of the village.

The Walls and Gates

San Giusto Gate opens up in the south-western stretch of the walls, facing Siena, and is the privileged point of entry to the historic centre of Lucignano. The gate, with rectangular base, is incorporated in the walls and carries on the façade a copy of the Medici coat of arms fallen in 1965.

Turning right, we enter Via Matteotti, the main street in the village, called Love street in the olden days due to the close link with the city of Siena, or even Rich Burgh, because here overlooked the palaces of the most influential and powerful families, such as the Battelli-Renzuoli, the Arrighi-Griffoli (in which a nursing home is currently located) and the Arnaldi-Capei palace, the only building that maintains unchanged its medieval characteristics. Between these buildings opens up Porta Sant’Angelo, a gate closed at the end of the 18th century, and forgotten until the 20th century. Today, it is a sim­ple passage incorporated within the walls. A little further on, the hospital of St Ann, founded in 1397 and operative up to the last century. The street ends with the gate named San Giovanni characterized by a pentagonal design.

The street that from here closes the circle is Via Roma, once known as Poor Street as it was the road where the more humble classes of the village lived, it hosted numerous artisan activities, small shops and modest commercial activities, which made it one of the liveliest districts in the entire village. Walking on, we line the Monks’ garden, utilized for cen­turies by the local community for the simple domestic cultivations.

Further on, opens up Porta Murata (Walled Gate) thus named because it was walled up in the 16th century, at the time of the war against Siena, and reopened after a long and laborious restoration, only at the end of the last century. Typical example of medieval military architecture, it has evidence of medieval flooring in sandstone and calcareous cobbles.

Along the steps of San Giuseppe, a short distance from the church of the same name, on a stone placed right in the corner of a house we can read “Freedom of speech and chant”. According to a verbal tradition, this is a pre­cise reference to the division of the village into two different realities: the upper part was the seat of the political and religious power, with the Council Palace, the churches and the monastery, where the silence -typical of religious mysticism- predominated; and the zone immediately below, where the entire existence of the population of Lucignano unfolded.




The Keep and the Loggia

The Keep was build in the 14th century by Sienese craftsmen. Since 1554, the year of the defeat of the Sienese armies at Scannagallo, it lost its function as a fort and was used as a deposit for wheat, later in 1829 it was transformed into a theatre.

On the façade of the theatre, two coats of arms stand out clearly: they depict, respectively, the balzana (the black and white Siena’s coat of arms) and the rampant lion, which recalls the dominion of Siena over Lucignano.

In front of it lies Piazza delle Logge, realized after 1558 in the context of the works commissioned by Cosimo I as a result of the victory of Scannagallo (1554), in order to complete the square with the symbols of the three powers: religious, civil and military.

The upper part of the loggia, in the shape of a terrace, links the older part of the village, at a higher altitude, and the more recent part, which consists of the last and more external circle of walls.

The Collegiata of St Michael

The Collegiate Church is located on the southern side of the Courthouse square, where stood a large and powerful fortress – possible of Lombard origin – destroyed by a bolt of lightning in May 1556. A small church, dedicated to St Michael too, was set against it. It was decided, after the demolition, to build a larger church there, to take care of the entire population of Lucignano.

The shape of a Latin cross with a eight-sided dome, is due to the local architect and painter Orazio Porta, while the magnificent external staircase, made of traver­tine, which with its elliptical shape recalls the town-planning of the village, was designed by the Jesuit Andrea Pozzo in 1712.
The façade was completed only in its lower half, and is characterized by a brick face and four sandstone pilasters. The portal, made of sandstone too, was executed in 1715.

The inside of the church hosts a majestic high altar, dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, again designed by Andrea Pozzo, and interesting paintings realized by 17th century artists: a Visitation by Matteo Rosselli (1631); The Death of St. Joseph by Onorio Marinari (1668-70); St. Charles visits the plague (1661) and The Martyrdom of Saint Lucia (1665) by Giacinto Gemignani; The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence by Carpophorus Tencalla (1650); The Last Supper, recently attributed to Rutilio Manetti (1615), a Visit of the Three Wise Men by Luigi Ademollo (1812).
The Chapel of SS. Sacramento, decorated by Luigi Ademollo houses the 14th century Miraculous Crucifix, once in the church of St. Margaret, currently impracticable.



san Francesco

san Francesco

san Francesco

St Francis Monastery

Next to the Town Hall, stands the Church of Saint Francis, one of the most distinguished examples of Tuscan Gothic Architecture. It was begun in 1248, and was finished unquestionably before 1289, when the act of submission to Siena was confirmed inside the Church.
The elegant façade shows sand­stone and travertine horizontal strips. The graceful portal, made of travertine too, is sur­mounted by a sandstone rose window. The architectural scheme is typical of Franciscan churches, T shaped with a pitched roof to the nave with wooden trusses, while the transept and the three chapels in the apse have a vaulted ceiling, with raised ribs of great effect and beauty.

On the high altar it is still possible to admire a polyptych by Luca di Tommè (ca. 1330-1389), in which dominates a splendid enthroned Virgin and Child sur­rounded by Saints John the Baptist, Michael the Archangel (who holds the Castle of Lucignano), Peter, and Catherine of Alexandria.
On the walls, originally fully painted, only part of the frescoes attributed to Taddeo di Bartolo and Bartolo di Fredi are visible, a part of them damaged or covered by the 16th – 18th century altars.
The right side of the transept is entirely frescoed with stories of St Francis, Saints, and by a Visit of the Three Wise Men. Among the chapels in the nave the famous Triumph of Death dominates in beauty and interest.
The triumph of death is a theme that became frequent in many Franciscan churches during the second half of the 14th century after the big plague epidemics, as the Black Death of 1348. The most famous example is the fresco of the Cemetery of Pisa by Buffalmacco.
High up, to the left, is depicted Christ, who admonishes the observer and invites to meditate on the tragedy that is taking place in front of his eyes: “O TU CHE LEGGI PONCHURA AI COLPI DI // CHOSTEI CHOCISE ME CHESO SIGNIOR DI LEI” (You reader pay attention to the blow of the one who killed me, who am master of her) . Lower down on the left, the figures of four elderly and poor people are visible, in shabby clothes, longing for Death. Above this group, an inscription reads: “POI CHE PROSPERITA’ // CIA LASCIATI OMORTE //MEDICINA AOGNI PENA VIE(N) // CI ADARE OMAI LUTIMA CENA” (Since wealth left us, oh Death, medicine of every sorrow, come and give us the last supper). On the right are depicted two young men in train of hunting, unaware of the tragedy that is about to be consumed. In the centre of the fresco stands out the figure of Death on a black horse, armed with a bow, arrows and a tall scythe: the poor at its shoulders, it leans towards the group of young men.

Finally, two other things in the church deserve a remark: the Virgin of Crespignano, a 14th century wooden statue and the Organ, now placed in the counter-façade in a wooden choir of the baroque epoch. Built during the second decade of the 16th century, it is one of the oldest functioning organs of Italy.
The monastic complex, which has undergone considerable alterations along the centuries, rises on the right side of the church. The 14th century cloister was completely closed up in order to host a weaving school, active from the middle of the 18th century until the last century. The late 17th century frescoes by Antonio Taddei from Verona are by now extremely deteriorated.

La Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata

The Church of the Misericordia constituted the oratory of the company of the SS. Annunziata, one of the oldest religious congregations established in Lucignano. This oratory was not included in the general abolition of monastic bodies and orders enforced by Grand Duke Leopoldo thanks to the population, which installed there first the Compagnia di Carità and then the present day Venerabile Arciconfraternità di Misericordia whose coat of arms is engraved above the door.
The high altar made of carved and gilded wood occupies the whole back wall including eight paintings of the late 16th century Tuscan school.

Two glazed terracotta statues have also been placed on the side walls: the Angel of the Annunciation and the Madonna of the Annunciation by artists of the della Robbia school. A Museum of Charity was recently set up in the sacristy. In it are displayed numerous pieces of furniture, garments, and furnishings of the Confraternity which for centuries has been engaged in charitable services in favor of the population of Lucignano.

ss. annunziata misericordia

ss. annunziata