Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie – Chiusdino

Just outside the medieval village of Chiusdino, travelling along a road that goes into the countryside of Val di Merse is the small and curious “Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie”, in which a sacred image depicting the Madonna delle Grazie is still revered.

This strong devotion is demonstrated by the care, attention, and gratitude that the faithful over time have shown toward the Virgin Mary, who, according to tradition, first appeared before a little girl who was sad and distressed because of her poverty and “hunger”.

After the meeting with the “Beautiful Lady” the little girl received fragrant bread, cheese and flour to feed her poor family several times as a gift. The good graces (grazie) continued century after century, as testified by the hundreds of votive offerings that are still in the Sanctuary today.

This is an itinerary of some difficulty and length. It leaves Siena toward the Val di Merse and its characteristic views, passing through Sant’Andrea a Montecchio and San Rocco a Pilli before entering the more wooded area at Brenna, near Merse.

From here the route is uphill to Monticiano and then Chiusdino without forgetting to visit the San Galgano Abbey complex along the way.

Having reached Chiusdino and in particular the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie, the route returns toward Siena with the provincial road that passes through Frosini, Rosia and Sovicille, in an alternation of flat and hilly roads.

  • The places of various artistic, cultural and religious interest are indicated in green on the map.

Tradition has it that its origin is due to the apparition of the Virgin Mary before a little girl who had come up to Chiusdino in search of something to eat for herself and her very poor family.

After sharing fresh bread with her, Mary invited the child to return home where she would find fragrant bread and cheese in the cupboard and fine flour in the chest. And so it was!

The apparitions and miracles continued so that it was decided to build a modest chapel with its altar on the very spot where the Virgin Mary had appeared.

The centuries went by and the small sanctuary was forgotten until, while a group of workers working on the renovation of the building were striking hard with their pickaxes, the plaster began to ooze blood and a soft voice said, “Stop, here is Mary”.

On the plaster an image of the Madonna and Child appeared, painted in chiaroscuro, whose face was bleeding because it had been hit by some hammer blows. Following these “miraculous” events, it was decided to expand the small, ancient oratory and transform it into the current sanctuary.

The good graces continued century after century, as testified by the hundreds of votive offerings that are still in the sanctuary, most of them in the shape of silver hearts, but the oldest and most beautiful ones depict genuflected women, swaddled children and human body parts, especially eyes.

The strong and deep devotion to this Sanctuary is still felt today every 3 September when the feast of the “Madonna delle Grazie” is celebrated with great participation of the faithful.

Special thanks to Mr. Andrea Conti who provided the publications related to the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie.
“With the co-participation of the Regional Council of Tuscany”
Texts curated by Barbara Latini with the kind cooperation of the Office for Ecclesiastical Cultural Heritage of the Archdiocese of Siena. Technical implementation Vernice Progetti Culturali S.r.l.u.. Itineraries mapped out by the Val di Merse Cycling Group.

The Route

  • Length: 85 km
  • Elevation gain: 1389
  • Maximum incline: 10.2%
  • Road surface type: mixed (tarmac 74 km, dirt road 11 km)
  • Type of bike recommended: (Gravel, Tourism, Mountain Bike)