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The city of Chiusi

The town boasts over three thousand years of history. Between the end of the 8th century BCE and the beginning of the 7th century BCE an urban Etruscan civilisation developed, whose leaders, as in nearby Cortona, were landowning princes who quickly fortified the present town of Chiusi. One of these powerful princes - Porsenna - was able, at the end of the 6th century BCE, to expand Chiusi's power and even conquer Rome. At the start of the 4th century BCE the town was so rich that it became the object of invasion by the Gauls, who besieged the town. Briefly affected by Hannibal's invasion which defeated the Romans at Lake Trasimeno (217 BCE), the town became part of Rome, first becoming a colony and then a municipality of Rome. It was the first town in Tuscany to where Christianity spread, probably brought by a soldier or merchant arriving in Chiusi from the Via Cassia. In the 4th century CE, Chiusi already had its own diocese and its own bishop, now buried in the catacombs of Santa Mustiola.

Occupied and destroyed many times during the Gothic-Byzantine war (538-544), at the end of the 4th century CE the town was occupied by the Lombards who turned it into one of the main duchies of central Italy.

Fought over in the Middle Ages by the Guelphs from Orvieto and the Ghibellines from Siena, the decline of Chiusi began shortly after 1000 CE due to the water-logging of the land. In fact, the marshes, as can be seen from a bird's eye view of the Val di Chiana in a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci (see map on left), covered the territory from Lake Montepulciano to Lake Chiusi and reached to just below Città della Pieve. Malaria depopulated the town and the countryside until, at the end of the 18th century, the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo ordered the draining of the plain of Chiusi which was completed by the mid-1850s.

Following this came the agricultural, economic and demographic rebirth of the town and with this also came the first archaeological discoveries. These, in the 1800s, made Chiusi one of the most important centres for scholars and dignitaries who came to visit the excavations and its many private museums. This however, created a boom in the antiquities market, leading to the loss of many of the town's treasures. Modern archaeological tourism was born from this and today Chiusi is one of the most visited towns in the area.

Text by Enrico Barni

Azienda Agricola Poggio Pilella - Località Pilella, 26 - I-53043 Chiusi (SI) - Toscana - Italia - P.I.: IT00923390520
Cell: +39-339-1675588 - E-mail:

Azienda Agricola Sant'Andrea - Località Palazzuolo, 23 - I-53043 Chiusi (SI) - Toscana - Italia - P.I.: IT00388090524
Cell: +39-347-3336603 - Tel: +39-0578-222123 - E-mail: