Sarteano is a charming town, sheltered inland between the Val d’Orcia and the Valdichiana, in an area where one can experience breath-taking views from anywhere.
The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, which we know thanks to remarkable archaeological evidence from the Neolithic period found in the Grotta dell’Orso. The presence of the Etruscans, who lived in Sarteano from the 1st to the 9th century BCE, was very important. In fact, in Sarteano there are some of the most esteemed Etruscan tombs in Tuscany, including the Quadriga Infernale.
A good part of the findings made in this area, in particular in the Etruscan necropolis between the ninth and first centuries BC, can now be admired in the collection of the Archaeological Civic Museum of Sarteano, housed in the sixteenth-century Palazzo Gabrielli, located in the historic center of Sarteano.
The lower floor of the museum is dedicated to the Pianacce necropolis, including a life-size reconstruction of the extraordinary tomb of the Quadriga Infernale (4th century BC), whose pictorial cycle is among the most significant of Etruscan art, as well as one of the best preserved.
As well as an ancient historical past, Sarteano also has a medieval past. The most significant part of this is the 10th-century square castle, which clearly shows the medieval spirit of the village.
Among the great places to visit are the Church of San Martino in Foro and the Collegiate Church dedicated to Santi Lorenzo and Appolinare, where some valuable works are kept. Other places of interest are the Palazzo Comunale, the Palazzo Piccolomini, the Palazzo Goti-Fanelli and the Palazzo Cennini, and another little jewel is the Arrischianti Theatre.
There are corners to discover in every part of the territory of Sarteano and the Valdichiana Senese.
In the direction of Boccalaciana and Peschiera, you can follow ancient roadways from the Etruscan era, the so-called Vie Cupe, with striking cuts in the local travertine along which were situated the most important necropolises: Palazzina and Pianacce. The latter, in addition to offering a wonderful view of the Valdichiana, is a site of exceptional interest as it houses the Tomb of the Infernal Quadriga, numerous other hypogea and a structure that was once used for funerary rituals.
A few kilometers from the center of the village, after passing through dense forests, you can reach the fortified Abbey of Spineto, the medieval village of Castiglioncello sul Trinoro, characterized by a spectacular view over the Val d'Orcia, and the Pietraporciana Nature Reserve, which includes a large part of the territory of the homonymous Poggio di Pietraporciana on the ridge that separates Val d'Orcia from Valdichiana. Here, there's an unusual low-altitude beech forest thanks to particularly cool and humid climate. In addition to centuries-old beech trees and other broad-leaved trees, some rare shrub species also grow in the Reserve: belladonna and greater fusaggine, as well as the very rare martagon lily.
An ideal time to visit Sarteano is the month of August when, August 15, the popular Giostra del Saracino is held. It's an exciting challenge on horseback of medieval origin. Before the actual race, the five Contradas parade through the streets of the town in period costumes, while a series of preparatory events are held in the preceding days.
Among the other recurring events are the Fiera di San Lorenzo (August 10) and Fiera di San Martino (November 11).
Sarteano is one of the municipalities that is part of the Strada del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and the Flavors of the Valdichiana Senese, an area united by a landscape of hills and historic villages that can be explored by following the red thread of typical products, such as Vino Nobile, and taking a sip from cellars that are carved into the rock and tuff.