San Casciano dei Bagni

San Casciano dei Bagni is located in Tuscany on the southern border of the province of Sienna and has been famous since the earliest times for its abundant thermal springs. The 42 springs within its territory were discovered by the Etruscans and developed by the Romans. The feudal aristocracy of the Middle Ages also made great use of them. The waters were at the height of their fame in the period between the Renaissance and the middle of the 18 C. Today, the same sources feed the ultra-modern Fonteverde Spa centre. The mediaeval centre of San Casciano is composed a maze of narrow streets, alleys and squares that wrap themselves round the hill and wind upwards towards the Collegiate and the Town Hall. All that remains of the ancient "suburbium" is the church of Santa Maria della Colonna, standing in the countryside and dating back to the 4-5 C.
San Casciano takes its name from the ancient church dedicated to Saint Casciano, to which the specification "Bagni" (baths) was added to indicate the presence of the thermal baths of the territory. The origins of the village of San Casciano dei Bagni go back to the Etruscan and Roman periods, when the first thermal baths were built here. During the Roman Age, the locality was known not only for the beneficial properties of its sulphuric and alkaline springs but also for the flourishing trading activities that took place here, due to its location close to the Via Cassia.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the whole area was depopulated as a result of the recurrent Barbaric invasions and only repopulated during the Early Middle Ages around an already-existing castle that was under the jurisdiction of the The Abbey of Saint Salvatore. During the first years of the 13 C, the castle passed to the Visconti family of Campiglia, as testified by an imperial act issued in 1226 by Federico II. At the same time the ancient Via Cassia was diverted to San Casciano dei Bagni which consequently profited greatly.

After various political events involving the Visconti of Campiglia, in the middle of the 14 C, the family divided into two different branches and the new Lord of San Casciano dei Bagni gave the village to the Republic of Sienna. The period of Siennese domination coincided with the beginning of a series of bloody conflicts for control of the village, which was invaded and devastated first by the troops of Niccolò Piccinino and then by those one of Vitellozzo Vitelli. This situation contributed to the collapse of the Republic of Sienna that occurred as a result of the 16 C onslaught by the troops of the Medici of Florence allied with Imperial troops. By the middle of the 16 C, all of the domains of Sienna, among them San Casciano dei Bagni, became the possessions of the Republic of Florence, under the Medici Grand Dukes. During the domination of the Medici, the thermal baths were restored and promoted. During the next century the reforms acted by the Dukes of Lorraine gave an additional impulse to the economy of San Casciano.

Val di Chiana,, Siena Province,

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