Vitaleta Chapel: how to visit + all you need to know
All you need to know to visit the Vitaleta Chapel, a small church in the middle of Tuscany’s rolling hills beloved by photographers and visitors of all ages.
The Vitaleta Chapel is a small chapel perched on the top of a hill in Val d’Orcia, southern Tuscany.
It is one of the most iconic spots in the area and it is often chosen by photographers as the quintessential Tuscan landscape.
Indeed the Chapel of Vitatela seems to bring together many elements that are typical of this area: rolling hills, green in the spring and golden in summer, dark green cypress trees, solitary olive trees, pretty architecture and that mix of beauty and melancholy that Tuscany embodies so well.
The Chapel is easy to visit and a great opportunity to enjoy the countryside of Val d’Orcia.
If you are just driving by, you can spot the chapel from the scenic road connecting San Quirico d’Orcia with Pienza: it is a lovely view and a pull-out makes it easy to leave the car for a photo op.
If you have even just 30 mins to spare, I highly recommend you take the short walk to the chapel. Feeling on your skin the wind and sun of Val d’Orcia while getting close to the chapel is a wonderful feeling and adds a lot to a landscape we usually just admire from pretty terraces.
This is all you need to know to visit the Viteleta Chapel.
Vitaleta Chapel / Chapel of Vitatela / Cappella della Madonna di Vitaleta esential facts
Name: Chapel of Vitaleta / Vitaleta Chapel / Cappella della Madonna di Vitaleta
Year of construction: 1884-1885
Style: Purismo Senese (Siena’s purism), neo-gothic, neo-early-Renaissance
Location: between San Quirico d’Orcia and Pienza, in the province of Siena, Tuscany, Italy
How to get there: car + easy walk (see below)
The Vitaleta Chapel is a small chapel on top of a pretty hill in Val d’Orcia, a beautiful area in southern Tuscany.
The chapel dates from the late XIX century and it is famous for its pretty position.
Isolated and surrounded by rolling hills, the chapel has a striking white facade and it is framed by two trees, that make it stand out from the surrounding landscape of agricultural fields.
The chapel as we see it now dates from the XIX century.
In 1884, the owner of this piece of land, Vincenzo Padelletti, commission the building of a new chapel on top of the remains of an ancient sanctuary devoted to Mary Most Holy.
The architect in charge of the job was Giuseppe Partini who built it putting together influences from several styles: the chapel mixes elements of neo-gothic and neo-early-renaissance style and elements of the so-called Purismo Senese, a pictorial style inspired by Tuscan art from the XIV-XV century.
Unless you know art, you would easily believe the chapel to be much more ancient than it actually is.
The simple facade in white Rapolano stone has a triangular tympanum and a pretty rosette, while the sides and apse of the chapel and in Pienza stone.
Good to know! The chapel used to host a statue of the Virgin by Andrea della Robbia. The statue is now preserved in the church of San Francesco in San Quirico d’Orcia.
Inside, the chapel has a peculiar blue painted ceiling and an altar.
Beside the chapel, you can currently see art installations by Helidon XhiXha, which will be on show until November 2021.
At the time of writing (summer 2021), work is underway for the opening of Ristoro Vitaleta, beside the chapel, which will operate as a local bistrot.
How to get to the Chapel of Vitaleta
The Chapel of Vitaleta is on a hill beside the scenic road connecting Pienza and San Quirico d’Orcia (SP 146)
From San Quirico, you see the chapel to your right and you have two options to get there:
Option 1: soon after you spot the chapel, a sign on the right-hand side of the road indicated a path to the chapel and a small parking space on the side of the road.
From here, the walk to the chapel takes about 45 minutes.
Option 2: a little further down the road, again on the right-hand side of the road, you will find a turn onto a white road with a brown sign indicating the chapel.
Drive down this road (no special car needed, it is a white but well-kept country road), and follow it until you get to a parking area and a gate.
Park the car and follow the large path to the chapel: signs indicate exactly where to go and you see the chapel the whole time, meaning there is no chance of getting lost.
The walk to the chapel only takes a few minutes, it is flat and stroller friendly. You can easily take the walk to the Vitaleta Chapel with kids in tow.
If visiting in summer, be aware that the place is under the sun and very dry and hot: avoid coming here in the middle of the day and consider sunglasses, sunhat, sunscreen and water if coming in full heat.
Good to know: the road to the chapel is easy to drive and walk. You don’t need special shoes but this is a country road so avoid heels!
How long to spend at the Vitaleta Chapel
You can spend at the chapel as little or as long as you please.
We found that 30 minutes were enough for the walk back from/to the car and taking photos.
What to see and do near the Vitaleta Chapel
The Chapel of Vitaleta is in an area of great natural and artistic beauty: Val d’Orcia, Unesco World Heritage Site.
In the area, you can see the pretty towns of Pienza, San Quirico d’Orcia and Montepulciano, visit the beautiful vineyards and town center of Montalcino and enjoy the hot springs of Bagno Vignoni, Bagni San Filippo and Chianciano Terme.
Near the chapel, you can also visit the ‘Gladiator Cypresses’, the scenic spot where the last scene of the movie ‘gladiator’ was shot, only about 20 minutes on foot from the chapel.