The small museum of Castiglione d’Orcia is located in the former Oratorio di San Giovanni Battista (Oratory of St. John the Baptist), which dates back to the late 16th-early 17th century. Contained within are genuine masterpieces that make the exhibition space a must-see for visitors travelling through the Val d’Orcia.
The museum houses paintings created for Castiglione and Rocca d’Orcia by leading exponents of the Sienese School from the 14th and 15th centuries: Simone Martini, Lorenzo di Pietro (also called “Il Vecchietta”) and Giovanni di Paolo, in three extraordinary Madonnas with Child.
Along with these works, there is a collection of liturgical furnishings from churches and confraternities of the surrounding area, including two moulds for consecrated bread and sacramental hosts.
Leaving the museum, visitors may continue on to the summit of the town, and from there view the Rocca di Tentennano. This fortified tower is reached by walking along a breathtaking 300-metre pathway. The view of the countryside looks out to the gentle hills of the Val d’Orcia and to Montalcino. The tower itself, rising some 20 metres from a limestone spur, was first documented in 853 as a possession of the Abbey of Monte Amiata. For centuries it served a role of great strategic importance as a vantage point over the Via Francigena.
In the 1300s and 1400s, the fortress belonged to the Salimbeni family from Siena. In 1367, Saint Catherine of Siena visited here and, though illiterate, received the divine gift of writing.
Today the rocca is a site for art exhibitions. It is open to the public, and visitors who climb up to the terrace are rewarded by a magnificent panorama: the view takes in Monte Amiata to the south, Mount Cetona to the southeast, and reaches all the way to the Appenine Mountains to the east and the north.