Vitaleta Chapel is one of the unmistakable icons of the world-famous Tuscan landscape.
Located in the middle of the countryside, just a few kilometers from San Quirico d’Orcia, it can be reached either from SP 146 (in the direction of Pienza) or from SR2 Cassia, in both cases along a dirt road. It can be reached on foot through the trails(link).
It was first built between the late 16th century and the early decades of the 17th century. It was to be used to house a glazed ceramic Madonna by Andrea della Robbia, purchased in Florence during the 16th century at the workshop of the famous artists’ family. In the late 19th century the original church, now abandoned, was demolished; so the then owner, a private citizen landowner of San Quirico, commissioned the Sienese architect Giovanni Partini to build a new church, which was inaugurated in 1885.
Instead, the statue of Our Lady was moved several times to the Parish Church of Saints Quirico and Giulitta, which had been erected to the title of Collegiate Church since 1648. In that same year, thanks in part to the consent of Grand Duke Ferdinando II de’ Medici, the chapel of Vitaleta, with the venerated Madonna disputed between the peoples of San Quirico and Pienza, was definitively assigned to San Quirico, and specifically to the first canonry of the Collegiate Church. Our Lady was invoked whenever there was a famine, a pestilence, an earthquake. In 1861, due to the uninhabitable nature of the old church, it was decided to permanently transfer the statue to the Collegiate Church of San Quirico, pending the restoration and renovation of the former convent of St. Francis of the Order of Friars Minor in the main square of the town, which was suppressed by Grand Duke Peter Leopold. By 1870, the Della Robbia statue found its final home in the former convent.
Today the privately owned Vitaleta Chapel has recently been restored and is open to the public.