What to do in Montemerano
A Medieval Treasure in Tuscany
You may not have heard of Montemerano, as it is not one of the more famous villages in Tuscany. But once you’ve visited, you’ll be telling everyone to go! Officially one of the Borghi più belli d’Italia (most beautiful villages in Italy), it is a hidden treasure of the magnificent Tuscan countryside.
Montemerano is built into the side of a hill, and dates from the 13th century when it was built by the wealthy Aldobrandeschi family. When you visit, you will feel as though you are stepping back in time to the Medieval period, as the buildings remain perfectly preserved and the slow pace of life is a breath of fresh air from the busyness of modern living.
What to visit
The central focus of this village, like so many other Italian villages and towns, is the main parish church. The church of San Giorgio was built in the 14th century by Baschi, and restored in 1980. San Giorgio includes several interesting artworks, such as the intriguing Madonna della Gattaiola (Madonna of the Cat Flap) by a local artist known only by the title Maestro di Montemerano. You can also see Madonna in Trono col Bambino e Santi(Madonna Enthroned with Child and Saints) from the 15th century by Sano di Pietro. Sano di Pietro was part of the Sienese school of painting.
You must also visit the oldest building in the village, the Pieve di San Lorenzo, dating from the 12th century. This was formerly the parish church of the village, but was subsequently deconsecrated and is now used for cultural events. The church of Madonna del Cavalluzzo is located outside the walls of the city, and is the ‘newest’ of the churches, dating from the 15th century and reconstructed in the 17th century.
Around the village
Montemerano is entirely surrounded by walls that were erected in the 13th century. The walls have three gates into the town: the Porta di San Giorgio, the Porta Romana, and the Porta Grossetana. When you visit the Piazza del Castello, you will feel that you are walking in a storybook as you duck under stone arches and gaze upon the loggias which are covered with beautiful flowers.
Perhaps most enchanting is to simply walk around the village, drinking in its tranquillity as you weave through the little piazzas and hidden passages between the walls. When you step outside the boundary walls, you can admire the breathtaking Maremma countryside that rolls beneath Montemerano.
A plaque on the Pieve di San Lorenzo reads “Here time has stopped and one listens to the silence.” Indeed, a visit to Montemerano will sooth your soul as you absorb the total peace and calm of this undiscovered gem.
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