The Madonna of Vitaleta, Val d'Orcia

For 25 years, Patrick and Kaat Muylle, have made regular pilgrimages to the Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta

The Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta is located in the hills of the Val d’Orcia between San Quirico d’Orcia and Pienza, and offers one of the most iconic views of Tuscany, justly declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. No wonder one can see pictures of the chapel on the front page of lots of touristic guides of Tuscany, as it is one of its symbolic treasures. No wonder every tourist stops along the SS146 to take a picture.
Since the first time we visited Tuscany some 25 years ago, we are obsessed by this small and precious jewel, surrounded by two rows of cypress trees: every holiday we made a trip from Cortona to Montalcino we felt an irresistible urge to stop the car at exactly the same place to make exactly the same photo… in order to take the ultimate perfect image of the ultimate perfect chapel, with the ultimate perfect countryside background, and the ultimate perfect colors of sky and earth….Every time we are still trying to do it better than the last effort.
The chapel was built in the 16th century to house the statue of the Madonna of Vitaleta. According to the legend the Virgin Mary appeared to a shepherdess and suggested that the devout people of San Quirico should go to a shop in Florence where they should buy a beautiful glazed ceramic statue of the Madonna, made by the famous Andrea Della Robbia. The statue is today preserved in the Chiesa della Madonna di Vitaleta (San Francesco) in the centre of San Quirico d’Orcia. Every first Sunday of September a feast is held in her honor.
In 1861, due to a series of seismic shocks, the chapel was abandoned. The chapel as we see it today was restored in 1884 by a Sienese architect, Giuseppe Partini, inspired by 16th century models. The façade is now decorated with travertine stone from Rapolano Terme and a small rose window.
Until a few years ago the chapel was also a symbol for the ‘unreachable’: situated at around 800 meters from the road as the crow flies, one could only get to the chapel via a large detour along a privately owned path, mostly closed by a barrier. So, every year we needed our 300mm-lens to bring the subject closer…
In 2021 the entrepreneur Pasquale Forte bought the chapel and started the restoration under the protection of the Fine Arts, in order to preserve the sacred place, and to generate a touristic revival. (The buildings on the right side were renovated at the same time).
As a consequence, the small strada bianca, which was closed for tourists, has now re-opened! To get there by car, take the SS146 and turn off the road as soon as you seen the sign for the chapel. After a few hundred meters, you can park the car and walk to the chapel, about a kilometer away.
What a wonderful experience it was when we made it for the first time!
Finally, we could have a closer look and….and take the ultimate perfect image….!
As we mentioned in the beginning, we are somewhat obsessed by this place. We take every opportunity to go there and take every chance to get an artistic souvenir. This is not so simple: in the traditional souvenir shops you don’t find much choice. Nevertheless we collected a few and we cherish them as treasures …. one of these is made by the Italian artist Marco Bonechi.
In a shop in San Quirico we saw a special painting. It inspired us to develop our artistic creativity after 40 years of slumbering talent, and … shamelessly, copy this work at home!
Last remark: One can do beautiful signposted walking tours in the hills of the Val d’Orcia!
Patrick & Kaat Muylle, 01/05/2023 19:33:57

Receive news from Cortona each month

Sign up to our newsletter

Local news - useful info

- lifestyle - events - new listings...

I accept the processing of my presonal data, as described in your privacy policy
Other articles that might interest you
SienaStarting from the 12th century, the city of Siena was considered a free municipality and incorporated surrounding territories and small ...[continue]
Galleria Iginio Massari, Florencehttps://www.iginiomassari.it/pages/galleria-iginio-massari-firenzeTo keep your energy levels high, why not indulge in one of the best pastries in Florence.The ...[continue]
Giunti Odeon Libreria e Cinema:www.giuntiodeon.comThe Odeon cinema was one of the most beautiful cinemas of Florence. It was built around ...[continue]
Museo Marino Marinihttps://museomarinomarini.itThe Marino Marini museum mixes both old and new architecture and paintings.The collection is dedicated to the modern ...[continue]
Anselm Kiefer ‘The Fallen Angel’Everyday 10am - 8pm (11pm on Thursday) until 21st JulyPalazzo StrozziUntil the 21st July 2024 take ...[continue]

SOMETHING
TO SHARE ?

Send us your posts, viewpoints
and/or personal experiences
CONTACT US NOW

MY CORTONA

OUR BLOG IS INTENDED AS A CENTRAL HUB FOR CORTONA LOVERS WORLD-WIDE, BRINGING YOU USEFUL INFORMATION, PROFILES OF THE MANY INTERESTING PEOPLE WHO LIVE & VISIT THE TOWN, UP-DATES ON LOCAL NEWS, SPECIAL STORIES & UPCOMING EVENTS


Have a story or an anecdote to recount? Someone interesting you’d like to profile? A place you’ve visited that you’d like to recommend? Whether it’s useful, funny or informative, why not share it on My Cortona blog and add your name to our list of regular contributors? We’d love to hear from you.

THE SWEET HOUSE

Price: €.180.000

CASA TODIOLO

Price: €.1.150.000

THE HIDDEN TERRACE in the town centre

Price: €.480.000