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Madonna di Vitaleta

The chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta

Have you ever heard the story about Madonna di Vitaleta? In the middle of the 16th century, i.e. in the middle of the Renaissance, the Beta Virgin Mary appeared to a group of believers near a chapel in the Tuscan countryside on a hill surrounded by cypress trees near San Quirico d’Orcia.

The apparition asked these believers to go to a certain workshop in Florence where they would find a statue of the Madonna to be taken inside the chapel itself, the chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta.

The Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta: history

The statue, which was of course brought to this enchanting and fascinating place, was by Andrea Della Robbia, heir to the famous family of Florentine sculptors and ceramists, himself dedicated to sculpture, especially with the technique of terracotta. Up to this point, the legend. Since 1870, the statue has been in the Church of the Madonna di Vitaleta in San Quirico d’Orcia.

The Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta, which was restored in the 19th and 20th centuries, retains its Renaissance structure and aesthetics and perhaps even an earlier period – it is assumed that it was built on the extension of an older tabernacle and that for many years it was the place of adoration of the simulacrum of the Virgin of Consolation – but above all, it is built in a magical place. It is set in a rural landscape, surrounded by two rows of cypress trees, there is nothing around for several hundred meters, the arrival is only on foot and after the classic avenue of cypress trees that so strongly characterizes Tuscany.

All of this, combined with the moment in which you visit the chapel, contributes to the amazement: at sunset, there is a particularly soft light, at dawn an entirely different kind of light, but at these times the warm colors of the materials of the chapel produce extraordinary effects. Just as the seasons give different images: in summer the saturation of the bright blues of the sky and the green of the hills is a spectacle. Autumn also reflects the quiet with a moderate orange, burnt earth, and ochre. Winter, the realm of silence and soft, pale peace at the chapel, offers moments of special reflection, and spring also brings new life to the visits and enthusiasm of tourists.

The religious building has a single hall, with the main façade clad in Rapolano stone, characterized by a small rose window that opens above the architrave portal; on the sides, the same façade is bordered by pilasters – those vertical pillars that protrude from a wall with a decorative function, usually repeated rhythmically – one on the right and the other on the left, on which rests the pediment at the top, in whose tympanum there is a coat of arms. The side facades are covered in stone, as is the rear part of the religious building, at the top of which stands a bell gable with two adjoining round-arched belfries. The chapel is privately owned and is included in the territory of the Archdiocese of Siena-Colle di Val d’Elsa-Montalcino.

by Eduardo Lubrano.


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