Cetona is a small town in the province of Siena. The area around the municipality has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. The caves where the first inhabitants of the area used to live were used as shelters during the war. Main attractions are the archaeological sites near the suburb of Belverde and the castle of Camporsevoli.
Cetona travel guide
Town hall: Via Roma, 41 – 53040 Cetona. Kengetal: 0578. ZIP code: 53040. Tourist office: I.A.T. Cetona – Piazza Garibaldi (tel. +39 0578 239143).
A brief history of Cetona
The first inhabitants of the area have left their traces in the 25 caves in the walls of Monte Cetona.
The Etruscans lived on the territory of the present municipality. Later the Romans turned the settlement into a colony.
In 1418, Siena bought the city from Braccio di Montone, who had taken over power there. When in 1555 the Republic of Siena lost, Cetona and Montalcino were the last places to continue fighting.
After this, the rulers followed each other in rapid succession. The town first came into the hands of the emperor, then of Cosimo I, and in 1560 of the Vitelli family. Almost a century later, in 1652, this family gave the city to the Burchielli.
During World War II, the caves were again useful, this time to provide hiding places for partisans fighting the Germans.
Tourist attractions Cetona
The central square of Cetona is the mid-16th century Piazza Garibaldi (which, of course, was not called that at the time), created by Marquis Vitelli. The main buildings in the square are the Santissima Annunziata Church, the San Michele Arcangelo Church, the Rivellino, the Palazzo Terrosi and the Palazzo Vitelli.
The (former) Santissima Annunziata Church was built in 1558, when the Vitelli received Cetona as a fiefdom. Of the original facade, only the portal remains. The altar cloth “Annunciation of the Lord” is a 1648 copy of an older painting. The sacristy is now the seat of the tourist office and the church itself is used for events.
The Palazzo Minutelli was built in the same period and has been the seat of the town hall since 1876. Some rooms in the palace, including the Council Chamber and the City Library, were frescoed by Antonio Castelletti in the 18th century. Part of the building is occupied by a kind of museum dedicated to the local painter Lionello Balestrieri (1872-1958), whose “Beethoven” won a prize at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1900.
The Santissima Trinità Church stands in the square of the same name, built against the wall of castle. The church was built between the 12th and 13th centuries, and there are frescoes from the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Villa La Vagnola was built in the late 18th century by the nobleman Sallustio Terrosi for his future wife. The villa includes a huge park with a hunting lodge and an amphitheater, among other things. The highlight is the Casina Turca on a terrace with an obelisk, from which perfectly maintained avenues run in all directions. The family collected archaeological objects found in the area, including sarcophagi and Etruscan urns, which can be seen in the villa. (The villa can be visited by appointment with a guide).
The Villa La Palazzina stands in the middle of a large park. From the hanging garden one has a beautiful view of the surroundings. A tower forms the picturesque centerpiece of a semicircle of cypress trees. A 10-meter deep ice cellar has been excavated into the grounds and covered by a pyramid-shaped structure. This villa too can be visited by appointment only, with a guide.
Outside the city
The San Francesco Monastery, founded in 1212, is located a little outside the city. The two most important works of art are a “Madonna and Child” by Sano di Pietro and a “Madonna del Cardellino” by Girolano di Benvenuto, once part of a triptych.
The Eremo di Santa Maria in Belverde was built near a large where St. Francis himself is said to have prayed. The associated church is graced with 14th century frescoes. Belverde is a borough of Cetona, where there is also an archaeological park, with 40 thousand year old ruins of human settlements.
Camporsevoli, which was already inhabited in Etruscan times, is a borough where a medieval castle can still be seen. The San Giovanni Battista Church was built in the 12th century.
In Piazze, the 16th century San Lazzaro Church has been restored and turned into a cultural center. Near the altar hangs a “Resurrection of Lazarus” painted in the 17th century. In the Piazza Vittorio Veneto in front of this church is a “Monument to the Victims of World War I” by Raffaello Romanelli from 1924. The San Giuseppe al Tamburino Chapel dates back to the early 16th century and was built after a plague epidemic. The frescoes in this church depict an “Annunciation of the Lord” and a “Madonna and Child between John the Baptist and Joseph.”