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The eastern side of the wide Valdichiana (Chiana Valley) falls primarily within Arezzo province and is dominated by Cortona, but with more time it pays to explore the less touristy western side, bordering Siena province. Monte San Savino (www.comune.monte-san-savino.ar.it) is a scenic walled hill town 43km/27 miles from Arezzo on the SS73; the main attractions here are associated with ceramic artist Andrea Sansovino (1460-1529), who eventually took up sculpture and became a master Renaissance carver. You can see two of his ceramic pieces in the church of Santa Chiara; his altarpiece of the Madonna and Child with Saints was probably glazed by Andrea or Giovanni della Robbia, and the unglazed Saints Lorenzo, Roch, and Sebastian was one of his earliest masterpieces. The Pieve, farther along Corso Sangallo on the right, was built in 1100 and remodeled in the 18th century; it contains some early Sansovino works, including a sarcophagus (1498) just inside the main door. On Piazza di Monte is the disintegrating Sansovino door on Sant'Agostino. Andrea Sansovino designed the double loggia against the inside front wall of this church, as well as the cloister (1528), entered from a door to the left of the facade on the piazza outside. The artist's simple tomb slab was discovered in 1969 under the pulpit.

A byroad from here leads 8km (5 miles) south to the tiny elliptical burg of Lucignano (www.comune.lucignano.ar.it), a popular aerial photo on posters in area tourist offices. The focuses of the town's four concentric ellipses are the Collegiata, with its pretty oval staircase, and the Palazzo Comunale, with its small museum (tel. 0575-836-128). The collections include two Signorelli works, 15th-century frescoes, a triptych by Bartolo di Fredi, and a beautifully crafted gold reliquary more than 2.4m (8 ft.) high called the Tree of Lucignano (1350-1471).