Although Sarteano was definitely founded by Etruscans, its origins can be traced back to prehistoric times. Many archaeological founds indicate that this area was inhabited over 40,000 years ago.
Numerous archaeological sites dating from various Etruscan periods, including the splendid paintings of the “Tomb of the Infernal Chariot”, are readily accessible. They are visited and admired by both interested visitors and experts in the field, along with the Civic Museum, where the area founds are displayed.
The square and massive shape of the Fortress, dating from the 10th Century and reconstructed by the Republic of Siena in the 15th Century, is clearly visible from many miles distant. It seems to be still protecting the old town and its feet, which has preserved its distinctive characteristic Medieval layout.
Sarteano also prides itself on its civic and religious buildings, such as Palazzo Fanelli, Cennini, Paperoni, Guelfi, Goti, Gabrielli and so on, as well as Palazzo Todeschini-Piccolomini, the birthplace of Pope Pius III, whose name was Silvio Piccolomini.
The churches include the Collegiate, with a magnificent wooden choir dating from the 16th Century, a marble tabernacle by Marrina and an Annunciation by Girolamo del Pacchia (1514). Another Annunciation, by Beccafumi, is preserved in the Church of San Martino in Foro, which also contains a singular “Madonna and Child”, an early work of Jacopo di Mino del Pellicciaio.
The Romanesque Church of San Francesco, with Gothic features, testify that Saint Francis the “Poverello of Assisi” was here in the area. In fact, a couple of kilometres away, you can still see the cells where the Saint lived for a short time. There is also the Theatre of the Arrischianti, dating from the 18th Century. It has once more become part of the town’s cultural heritage, after a careful restoration.
Not far from the town centre, the thermal mineral spring of Bagno Santo flow out in the middle of a lush, green park. These springs feed the pools of the spa, which also has a well known 4 star campsite. The “Cittadella dello Sport”, with a wide selection of facilities, is next to the campsite.
The town of Sarteano is very keen on preserving its traditions. Amongst these, one of the oldest and most popular is the Joust of the Saracen. The lively contest between the town’s five districts, or contrade as they are called here, becomes a unified effort aimed at keeping the town’s cultural heritage alive.