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San Quirico is a charming, walled town on the northern edge of the Val d’Orcia. A large part of the antique town walls still stand along with 14 small towers, although some of them are incorporated into other buildings. Unfortunately, nothing remains of the North and South gates, although the partially original Eastern gate is preserved. Probably this was originally preceded by an outer gate, of which only the base remains.
La collegiata church
La Collegiata has three doorways. The first, brought from Siena, is a magnificent example of Romanesque art, constructed of sandstone and travertine. An extraordinary wealth of symbolic religious themes can be seen on the inside of the great round arch. The first “portale di mezzogiorno” (southern door), is obviously still in the Romanesque style, even though there is a hint of the Gothic, is attributed to Giovanni Pisano. With its protruding porch supported on two columns, and with its wonderful balance, it encorporates elements of the Classical, Romanesque and Gothic styles. The bell-tower, as it appears today, was built at the end of the 18 C and replaced the old, arched bell tower.
Next to the Collegiata and opposite the Palazzo Pretorio (magistrate’s palace) rises the huge mass of the Palazzo Chigi. This palace was built in the second half of the 17 C by Cardinal Flavio Chigi, and is now the property of the town council. Unfortunately, due to negligence and harm suffered during the Second World War, the palace remains seriously damaged on its external structure and in its richly frescoed rooms.
The Horti Leonini, laid out by Diomede Leoni in 1580, is a superb example of the Italian garden. The enormous garden opens into a wide perspective flight, the effect of which is helped by the perfectly geometrical beds of box hedge. Starting at the bottom of the garden, an English wood extends up through to the large square at the top, which was once dominated by the old “torre del cassero”, destroyed during the Second World War. In the centre of the lower square, there is a statue of Cosimo III de’ Medici, sculpted in 1688 and commissioned by Flavio Chigi in gratitude to the Grand Duke, who had nominated him to be Marquis of San Quirico.