Monteriggioni

Monteriggioni

Monteriggioni

A timeless place

Monteriggioni represents one of the most significant fortified villages in the area and is one of the best preserved examples of military architecture in the world. Its strategic position allowed first to control and then to admire Colle Val d’Elsa and Staggia.

The perfect circularity of its perimeter was achieved by following the natural contours of the land. The walls of Monteriggioni have a perimeter of 570 metres and were built between 1212 and 1219, only to be reinforced in 1260-70.

The untouched city walls consist of 14 towers and 2 city doors. The Porta Franca or Romea facing Rome and the Porta Fiorentina facing Florence. All this demonstrates its majesty, which still shocks today.

Piazza Roma, the heart of the village, is surrounded by meadows and vegetable gardens, once useful for the survival of the population in case of siege. This is the main square of the village, overlooked by the Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta. A small church, it has always been the centre of village life.

The prestige and peculiarity of this village have long enjoyed a consolidated reputation; even the poet Dante Alighieri mentions Monteriggioni in his Divine Comedy because he was personally impressed by this imposing structure.

There are legends that tell of secret passages and underground passages connecting the castle with the nearby fortifications, and even a road to Siena.

In the last few years Monteriggioni has taken on greater tourist importance, having been included in the Via Francigena route by the Council of Europe, and is therefore part of the Cultural Itineraries. This is a walking route that starts from Piazza Roma in Monteriggioni and arrives at Il Campo in Siena.

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Monticiano

Monticiano

Monticiano A medieval village with two rivers and two natural reservesAmong the beautiful hills of Terre di Siena is Monticiano with all its authenticity. Its territory is crossed by the Merse and Farma rivers which give life to two magnificent natural reserves,...

Eremo di Lecceto

Eremo di Lecceto

Eremo di Lecceto

Area of multiple monastic experiences, of a life devoted to prayer and meditation

The Lecceto Hermitage is the most famous of the Augustinian hermitages and is located about eight km west of Porta San Marco in Siena. The hermitage-fortress, with a beautiful stone tower, is located in a very picturesque position on the edge of beautiful holm oak woods in an area called Grillanda, about 300 metres above sea level. Being only a mile away from San Leonardo al Lago, many historians have confused them over time.

The Lecceto Hermitage has a beautiful tower and, in addition to a distinctive portico and a remarkable bell tower, includes two cloisters: one from the 13th and one from the 15th century.. What is surprising, however, is the fact that such a famous hermitage has neither an official founder nor an official year of birth.

The hermitage community was the first to follow the new rule of St Augustine thanks to the approval of Prior Bartolomeo da Venezia. The monastery was always inhabited by Augustinian fathers from the first half of the 1200s until the end of the 1800s, the time of the Napoleonic suppression. In 1972, a female community of Augustinian nuns moved there after leaving the city of Siena. Their lives were completely woven with prayer, a prayer of meekness and compassion for man.

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Romanesque parish church of San Giusto in Salcio

Romanesque parish church of San Giusto in Salcio

Romanesque parish church of San Giusto in Salcio Sober, but imposing with the grey/soft colour of the stoneThe parish church of San Giusto in Salcio is an ancient Catholic church among the oldest in Chianti and belongs to the diocese of Fiesole.Continue with the...

Radda in Chianti

Radda in Chianti

Radda in Chianti A place known for its evocative atmosphere and its marvelous landscapesRadda in Chianti is a spectacular medieval village enclosed by massive defensive walls, located on top of the hill that divides the valleys of Arbia and Pesa. To its typically...

Castellina in Chianti

Castellina in Chianti

Castellina in Chianti Among woodlands, wildlife and Etruscan civilizationThe picturesque village still maintains the quadrilateral shape typical of the ancient medieval fortifications. The main fortification and the heart of the town is the ancient fortress, designed...

Pieve di San Giovanni Battista

Pieve di San Giovanni Battista

Pieve di San Giovanni Battista

One of the most interesting Romanesque monuments in the Sienese countryside

The Pieve di San Giovanni Battista, also known as the Pieve di Ponte allo Spino, is located in Sovicille in the alluvial plain of the Piano dello Spino, washed by the Rigo stream. This place was a stop on the imperial road that joined the Via Cassia with the Via Aurelia.

Historical information on the parish church is fragmentary, but the existing documents and its architectural structure facilitate a partial reconstruction of its history by scholars. The church is mentioned as early as 1050, but the building that has come down to us was built in the following century by the Vallombrosian monks of Torri.

This building was the summer residence of the Bishop of Siena, while the cloister attests to the presence of a community of presbyters, i.e. unmarried young men initiated into clerical life through cohabitation. From the archers, arquebuses and loopholes we can deduce that the complex was fortified.

The most important element of the parish is the bell tower, but its entrance is also very special because here instead of going up, you go down steps. This was done so that the church looks more slender from the inside than one imagines from the outside. The style is inspired by late French Romanesque and is therefore very close to Gothic.

The place cannot leave us indifferent, because the spirit within the ancient walls of warm colours and harmonious architecture is gentle, inspiring peace and serenity and enchanting with symbols whose meaning has been lost.

 

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Sovicille

Sovicille

Sovicille

An evocative landscape rich in historical memories

 

From afar Sovicille looks like a small island immersed in the green woods and hills of Tuscany. Sovicille is located about 10 km from Siena and with its 14,376 hectares is one of the largest municipalities in the Province.

The elliptical structure of Sovicille’s ancient core denotes its Etruscan origins. As evidence of this, these people, and later the Romans, founded their villages on the hillside watersheds both for defensive purposes and to avoid flooding and epidemics.

The historic centre of Sovicille has preserved its original dimensions from the 14th century without expanding further, because over the centuries it has suffered wars, fires and numerous plagues.

Below the village, there are several tunnels dug into the rock during the Middle Ages as secondary escape routes to escape sieges. Instead of the war memorial, there was a well-tank for the village’s water supply until the 1920s. Until the middle of the last century, the shops were stables for donkeys and mills, as Sovicille was a town of charcoal burners, woodcutters and barrow drivers.

The historical and artistic heritage of the area is of absolute importance, with a large number of Romanesque churches, abbeys and castles dotting its wooded and hilly landscape. Sovicille also boasts the highest number of medieval villages in Tuscany (about 55), some of which have disappeared, others reduced to farmhouses, and others still preserved to this day without alterations.

San Rocco a Pilli is the most populous locality in Sovicille. This area has expanded considerably in recent decades along the slopes of the hill on which the bell tower of the parish church stands. The village initially developed along the ancient road linking Siena with Poggio Civitate and Roselle.

On top of San Rocco stands the church of San Bartolomeo, which has had a troubled history, alternating between closure and restoration. Today, however, it has finally been reopened for worship.

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Badia a Coltibuono

Badia a Coltibuono

Badia a Coltibuono Surrounded by large forests of silver fir and chestnutIn 1051 the monk Giovanni Gualberto received as a gift from powerful local feudal lords the church of San Lorenzo a Coltibuono with the request to build a residence for the clergy and a hospice...

Gaiole in Chianti

Gaiole in Chianti

Gaiole in Chianti A market town for castles and surrounding areasGaiole in Chianti in the past was a city busy with local traffic, but after the end of the conflicts between Florence and Siena, it turned more towards agriculture, strengthening its position as a market...

Vertine

Vertine

Vertine Fortified oasis in the Chianti mountains Vertine is one of the best preserved examples of military architecture in Chianti and more precisely in the municipality of Gaiole. The excellent condition in which it is located today, especially the castle with its...

Rosia

Rosia

Rosia

Between legend and modernity

 

Rosia is a fraction of the municipality of Sovicille and owes its name to the homonymous stream that flows nearby. When we think of this place we cannot fail to mention the Hermitage of Santa Lucia and the Ponte della Pia.

The hermitage of Santa Lucia is a sacred building located near Rosia. Its origins date back to before 1200 and are presumably due to the hermit Bonacorso who lived there. The hermit was later joined by several followers who made it necessary to build accommodation. In the years that followed, the dioceses of Siena and Volterra made the community official and granted indulgences to all those who made offerings to the community. The church, which was dedicated to Saint Lucy, is thought to date back to 1252 and its consecration to 1267.

A miracle is also said to have occurred in the hermitage, namely the transformation of water into wine by Prior Clemente da Osimo with a simple sign of the cross. The hermitage was suppressed by the diocese of Siena, although it continued to be inhabited by some friars for a long time. Throughout the Middle Ages, pilgrims and wayfarers travelling from Siena to the Colline Metallifere and the Maremma found hospitality here.

The hermitage of Santa Lucia is one of Tuscany’s hidden gems and is located just beyond the Ponte della Pia, dedicated to Pia de’ Tolomei mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy and more precisely in the fifth canto of the Purgatory.

 

Ponte della Pia crosses the Rosia stream at the border between the municipalities of Sovicille and Chiusdino. During the winter months and colder periods, the little water flowing under the bridge is often frozen, creating a truly fairy-tale scenario. The Ponte della Pia is a bridge of Roman origin and is linked to a legend or perhaps something more.

This consists of a single humpbacked arch and is supported by a scarp base to ensure that the waters of the stream below would not weaken its foundations. Even today it is still possible to cross it on foot. The present structure dates back to the early 13th century and connects the two banks of the Rosia stream. In the past, it played an important role along the route of the ancient Via Massetana, which connected Siena to the Maremma, and in particular to the Colline Metallifere and Massa Marittima, from which the name of the road derives.

According to popular history, the beautiful Pia de’ Tolomei, wife of Nello d’Inghiramo de’ Pannocchieschi, passed over this bridge. This event is also mentioned in a famous canto of the Purgatory of the Divine Comedy. Nello had Pia locked up in his castle in Maremma, forcing her to leave Siena forever: Pia walked the road to the sea for the last time, crossing the bridge that took her name.

A large number of books have been written on the figure of Pia, between reality and myth, some based on exclusively historical facts, others on the many tales of Tuscan folk tradition. Some versions claim that the woman was not able to give Nello an heir and therefore he had her killed by assassins. Others tell of a betrayal by the woman and the jealousy of her husband. Others tell us that Nello killed her so he could marry his lover, Margherita Aldobrandeschi. But all the stories have the same ending: Pia de’ Tolomei was thrown from the bastion of the Castello della Pietra by her husband. So much so that even today there is a precipice referred to as the ‘Countess’s Leap’ on which the Pietra Castle stands.

We will hardly know the truth. To add to the mystery, a legend has it that the ghost of the noblewoman appears on the bridge: some people swear that on moonless nights they have seen a motionless, peaceful figure, surrounded by a pale light, dressed in white with a veil covering her face.

Pia’s human story is very far away from us in time. However, today Pia is a symbol of our times, which are so sadly filled with stories of women being abused, mistreated and murdered by violent and brutal men.

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Castle of Meleto

Castle of Meleto

Castle of Meleto The true 18th century taste in Gaiole in ChiantiThe Castle of Meleto stands majestically in the enchanting landscape of Gaiole in Chianti, at the end of a pleasant avenue lined with cypresses and junipers. The structure stands in the middle of fields...

Monte Luco

Monte Luco

Monte Luco Experiencing nature in peace and quietMonte Luco is a mountain in the Sienese Chianti area that rises just over 800 meters and is characterized both by the presence of pines, firs, chestnuts and beeches and, in the lower area, by thick Mediterranean scrub....

Cetamura

Cetamura

Cetamura Where the extruded identity still livesThe ancient Etruscan settlement of Cetamura in Chianti, in the municipality of Gaiole in Chianti, has returned a wealth of artifacts that cover a period of 15 centuries, starting from the Etruscan period, passing through...