The Civic Museum of Archaeology and Sacred Art is housed within the beautiful Palazzo Corboli, which formerly was known as Fattoria Bargagli. The ancient building with its richly decorated walls is of great historic importance, and stands as a rare example of a Medieval palatium. It was constructed by Siena’s Bandinelli family, who were merchants and owners of mills and other buildings, during the second decade of the 13th century when the Republic of Siena extended its rule over the territory of Asciano.
Despite significant structural changes over the course of the centuries, the palazzo still conserves several original portions such as the Sala di Aristotele (the Aristotle Room) and the Sala delle Stagioni(the Room of the Seasons) which boasts two allegorical fresco cycles from the 1300s, attributed to Cristoforo di Bindoccio and Meo di Pero. The frescoes contain ethical and political messages intended for the people who frequented these rooms.
The Sacred Art section leads visitors through paintings by the greatest Sienese artists from the 13th to the 17th century. On view are the Nascita della Vergine (Nativity of the Virgin) by the Maestro dell’Osservanza and other works by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Taddeo di Bartolo, Matteo di Giovanni, Rutilio Manetti, Bernardino Mei and Francesco Nasini, as well as several sculptures in wood including exceptional pieces by Francesco di Valdambrino and Giovanni Pisano.
Here, Sienese artists—in “the province” one century later—celebrate the tradition of the city’s master painters from the 1300s, demonstrating a trend of commissions by the newly emerging agrarian aristocracy. Also worthy of attention is the museum’s collection of goldwork and liturgical furnishings.
A remarkable exhibition brings together Medieval and modern ceramics, including priceless finds of archaic majolica recently dug up from a pit in which objects were discarded during the Middle Ages. An outstanding piece is a jug in archaic majolica, so finely decorated as to be truly one-of-a-kind.
The Archaeological Section houses Etrusco-Roman artifacts from the Upper Ombrone Valley. On display are pieces from the rich excavations at the Etruscan necropolises at Poggio Pinci and the Molinello Tumulus (Asciano), and from the princely tomb in the Poggione Necropolis (Castelnuovo Berardenga), including the extremely rare Etruscan cart.
These archaeological finds illustrate the artistry and wealth of the Etruscan population that inhabited this region from the 7th century B.C. to the Roman Era. Ancient Roman discoveries are shown here, too, in pieces unearthed at the Campo Muri thermal bath compound (Rapolano Terme).
Ruota di Barlaam (Wheel of Barlaam), Sala di Aristotele (Aristotle Room), Cristoforo di Bindoccio and Meo di Pero (1370 ca.): a story echoing the Buddhist tradition, inviting the population to shun the vanities of earthly possessions.
Polittico di Badia a Rofeno (Polyptych from Badia a Rofeno), Ambrogio Lorenzetti (1330-1335): this powerful image of St. Michael the Archangel as he battles the dragon described in the Book of Revelation is enriched with intense, vivid colours. This masterpiece, which Vasari wrote about, stands as the model later emulated by generations of painters.
Pettine in avorio (ivory comb), Poggione Necropolis (late 7th-early 6th century B.C.): a gorgeous comb decorated with winged lions, demonstrating the attention that Etruscan woman paid to styling their hair.
Civic Museum of Archaeology and Sacred Art Palazzo Corboli
Corso Matteotti, 122
Tel. 0577 714450 / 348 0847875
from 28th April to October
from Wednesday to Sunday and holidays, 10am to 4pm and 3pm to 7pm
from 1st Novembre
Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm
open all year on request
children under 14 years
Not far from Siena, the small town of Asciano stands along the banks of the River Ombrone surrounded by the magnificent landscape of the Crete Senesi (the Clay Hills of Siena). It owes its economic and artistic good fortune to several leading members of Siena’s mercantile class who, centuries ago, invested in this territory, making it of strategic importance to the economy of Siena itself. The historic town centre is home to noteworthy buildings such as the Basilica of St. Agatha, built in the 11th century, and the Churches of St. Augustine and St. Francis with their great fresco cycles.
The main street running through the heart of this exquisite walled town was once part of the historic Via Lauretana, a historic road that, since ancient times, connected Siena to the Mediterranean coast in the Marches region. For centuries this route was travelled by merchants, wayfarers and pilgrims. One fascinating theory holds that the illustrious painter Raffaello, while still a young man, journeyed along this road with his teacher Pinturicchio on the occasion of the mid-millennial Jubilee, leaving his artwork in the ancient Pieve di Sant’Ippolito (Parish Church of St. Hippolytus), just outside the town walls of Asciano.
Stepping momentarily away from the Via Lauretana, visitors may reach the Piazza del Grano with its spectular 15th-century fountain in travertine by Antonio Ghini, and the impressive Palazzo del Podestà.
A number of breathtaking itineraries branch out from Asciano across the unique landscape of the Crete Senesi. There’s the historic Lauretana heading toward Chiusure and the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, the road to Rapolano, and the magnificent unpaved road to Monte Sante Marie and Torre a Castello.