THE DAYS OF THE BLACKBIRD – January 29TH/30TH/31ST

 

 merlo%20bianco THE DAYS OF THE BLACKBIRD   January 29TH/30TH/31ST

Hello everyone!


Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie is curious to know how you will spend the next few days (January 29th/30th/31st ) called the “days of the blackbird”.Surely you know that by tradition these three days are considered to be the coldest of the year,but do you know why?

The legend tells that once January had only 28 days and every year it enjoyed to harass a beautiful white plumage blackbird. Indeed, it seems that whenever the little bird came out of the nest to find food,January sent on Earth icy weather and storms of snow.
One day,before the arrival of January,the cunning blackbird collected so many food that it was never needed to go out and could stay warm in the nest for all 28days of the month.January started feeling teased and asked February for three of its days so when the blackbird had came out,January would have been in time to send on Earth cold and frost. When the blackbird came out sure that icy weather was ended, January sent a storm of snow that the bird was no longer able to reach its nest and it was forced to shelter in a chimney pot. The poor bird remained there for three days and when it came out, its white feathers had become dark because of the soot….since then it is said that all blackbirds born with black plumage.

Here at Borgo Grondaie we have a beautiful fire place….you may visit us and check our blackbirds!

An old proverb says that when theese days are really cold, spring is not so far away…. So we hope and for now we wish you good freezing !!!


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GAIA FOUNTAIN – SIENA

 480x280 photos 54440 siena fonte gaia in piazza del campo GAIA FOUNTAIN – SIENA

Following the procedure of previous posts about Piazza del Campo (Campo Square), we can not forget Fonte Gaia (Gaia Fountain).

In 1343 the Government of “Nine Delegated” decided to bring water to the Campo Square.

The first fountain was inaugurated in the general joy of the citizens ( hence seems to derive the name Gaia = joyful).

Placed in the upper part of the square, the fountain was fed by a subterranean water system still known today as the “bottini of Siena”.

In the early years of the Fifteenth century, more precisely from 1409 to1419, the fountain was replaced by that of Jacopo della Quercia. His work remains one of the most important masterpiece in the sculpture of the Fifteenth century in a period of transition from Gothic to Renaissance.

Jacopo della Quercia placed in the middle of the fountain the marble statues representing Virgin Mary and Jeus with two angels which are followed by Theological Virtues, Cardinal Virtues and Justice; later he added other sculpters depicting the Creation of Adam and the Fall from Paradise;

in the end the two statues representing Acca Larentia and Rea Silvia (Romolo and Remo’s mother and nurce).The marble statues made by Jacopo della Quercia remained in the Campo Square until

the mid-nineteenth century when, outworn by then, they were replaced by copies (the ones we see today) made by Tito Sarrocchi.

The originals are now in a room of The Museum “Santa Maria della Scala” in front of the Cathedral of Siena.

 

From the book: “Tutta Siena contrada per contrada” by Piero Torriti

 

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THE MARBLE CHAPEL IN THE CAMPO SQUARE – SIENA

getImageBin.asp?filename=WZE0960 THE MARBLE CHAPEL IN THE CAMPO SQUARE   SIENA

Hotel Siena Borgo  Grondaie dedicates this post to the Chapel of the Piazza del Campo, a marble building that stands beneath the Torre del Mangia in the forward position to the facade of City Hall.

Siena ordered its construction in 1352, after a vow made because of the terrible pestilence of 1348, which “froze” in Siena many works in progress. The construction of the chapel continued until late fifteenth century. The four corner pilasters were erected, in the same way we can see today, in 1378 and above them there was just a wooden roof replaced, during the Renaissance, by a marble vault supported by arches with niches at the corners and a lintel depicting a classic series of griffins .
Inside the fourteenth-century niches marble statues were placed and today it is possible to admire those that remain representing S. Peter, S. James, S. John the Evangelist and S. Thomas.
The wrought iron railing, located at the sides of the chapel, dates back to the fourteenth century and seems to be the old railing of the first chapel of the Government of the” Nine” in City Hall.
To the left of the altar there is a tabernacle in stone depicting the Annunciation and Jesus blessing while above the altar, unfortunately just few traces remain of the fresco made by Sodoma between 1537 and 1539 depicting the Madonna with Child and Angels and God.

This Chapel is still protagonist of moments particularly felt by people from Siena, especially for the so-called “Mass of the jockey” that is celebrated in the early morning of every July 2nd and August 16th (the days of the most famous horse race in the world i.e. the Palio) before the last trial also called the “provaccia”.

From the Book: “Tutta Siena Contrada per Contrada” by Piero Torriti.

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PICI (OR SPAGHETTI) WITH CHEESE AND PEPPER

pici PICI (OR SPAGHETTI) WITH CHEESE AND PEPPER

Hello everybody!  Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie  wants to share with you a simple but very tasty recipe directly from the Tuscan tradition i.e. “pici or spaghetti with cheese and pepper” (from the book “I Quaderni di Cucina Senese” by Andrea Maestri).

 

First, we explain what is pici: it’s nothing more than a kind of pasta like fat spaghetti made with flour and water. Mix the flour with warm water and a pinch of salt to make a paste quite firm. Remove from mixing small pieces of paste and extend them quickly with your hands until they take form of spaghetti. The diameter should be about 3 mm. However, for those who do not want to engage in the production of home-made pasta, we recommend using the spaghetti of a measure rather large.

For the sauce: after cooking pici or spaghetti in salted water, drain the pasta “al dente”( neither overdone nor uncooked) and add extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, oregano, parmesan or pecorino and a spoon of cooking water. Mix well and … Enjoy your pasta !!!

 
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THE TORRE DEL MANGIA ( THE TOWER OF MANGIA) – SIENA.

palazzo THE TORRE DEL MANGIA ( THE TOWER OF MANGIA) – SIENA.

Hello everybody from Hotel Borgo Grondaie !! Our virtual journey into the history of the beautiful Siena continues with the Torre of Mangia.
The Torre of Mangia is and was a symbol, a sign that the travelers could see from afar, as a kind of flag for a city proud to show off its power. As mentioned in the previous post about the Public Palace, the construction of the tower began in 1325 and ended in 1348. It was built as a reference of power residing in the Palace and a symbol of the city. The tower of the Palace of government soared well above the other towers built to guard homes of the noble families of Siena. Unfortunately, after the fall of the Republic of Siena in 1555, the Spanish-Florentine pulled all those smaller towers down around the Public Palace leaving the Torre del Mangia as the unique protagonist.

The top of the tower, 87 meters high until the last merlons and 102 to the tip of the lightning rod, offers a magnificent view over the whole city and the surrounding hills.

The Tower is all made of fired brick up the battlement made of white travertine.
The Torre del Mangia owes its name to a certain Giovanni di Duccio, who, in charge of tolling the hours on the Tower since 1347, was nicknamed Mangiaguadagni or Mangia because of its willingness to spend money (“mangia” from the Italian verb “mangiare “= to eat and the substantive “guadagni”= earnings). When in 1360, a watch was placed in the tower, hours were tolled by a woody robot later replaced by a new one made of stone which was nicknamed “The Mangia” in memory of Giovanni Di Duccio. In 1780 the hours were marked by a simple hammer while the remains of the automaton are still preserved in the Cortile del Podestà (Public Building).

The first bell of the tower, built on 1348, was replaced by another in 1634, but it was imperfect and in 1666 a third bell was built called “Sunto” dedicated to Our Lady Maria Assunta (Assumed into heaven).

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PALAZZO PUBBLICO (CITY HALL) OF SIENA

facciata palazzo pubblico imgzoom PALAZZO PUBBLICO (CITY HALL) OF SIENA

Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie continues the study of the history of Sienatalking about Palazzo Pubblico, whose development is closely linked to that of the Campo Square(Piazza del Campo).
The space of the square was used for fairs and markets until 1270 with the “Government of Twenty-Four Delegates”, but dropped this; the next “Government of the Nine” (1287-1355) began to think of a neutral location for the city government because until then the Council met inside churches or palaces of noble families. With the construction of the new building, the palace became the heart of any business and the big space that the building removed from the valley became the most important public place for all most significant events.
The original core of the building, consisting of a simple stone façade on one floor and with four breaches, was completed in 1284 and already included the Customs (oil and salt) and the Mint.
In 1297 it began the construction of the real central part of the building not so much different from what it is today and that is the ground floor in stone with four lancet openings, the first, the second and the last floor made of bricks with mullioned windows. The Guelph battlement is composed by nine merlons in memory of the glorious “Government of the Nine”. In this period the City issued a lot of laws (that are considered the earliest city plan of our time) in order to respect and standardize esthetic rules for anyone who intended to build a new building.
The main building dates back to 1305 and the extension of the same with the addition of two wings was completed in 1310 (during which the Government of Nine settled there), although the second floor of both wings was built in 1680 in the middle of the baroque era.
It ‘duty to mention an extension of the building carried on the right wing in 1325; thanks to this extension it was possible to use basements as prisons and provide a larger room for the Grand Council, later, in 1560, this room was transformed into a theater which still exists (Rinnovati Theater) after repeated repairs because of damage caused by numerous fires and earthquakes. The restructuring in 1325 allowed to give space to the storehouse for the salt (a very important substance at that time because the only one for food preservation and whose trade was of vital importance to the economy ofSiena). Today, these rooms are used for temporary art exhibitions.
Also in 1325 Siena began the construction of the Torre Del Mangia…. but that’s another story.

See you next time!

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PANFORTE CAKE OF SIENA

index PANFORTE CAKE OF SIENA

After the recipe for Ricciarelli, Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie  is happy to share with you the recipe for Panforte, the symbol of pastry of  Siena. (From the book “I luoghi del gusto di Siena”).
The history of Panforte refers back to medieval times when the trade of spices started and this cake can be considered a direct descendant of another kind of cake called “ panpepato”. The name of panforte (strong bread), refers to those sweets made from bread and honey, which were enriched with dried fruit and the moisture in it combined with sugars resulted in an acidic strong  taste. With the introduction of spices coming from Asia, the preservation of the gingerbread was improved and extended. The spices spread to monasteries where religious experts prepared the first spiced bread in their fully equipped pharmaceutical laboratories. Over time, the tradition of the production of panforte by pharmaceutical plants was strongly maintained so that, starting from ‘nineteenth century, from the oldest pharmacies in Siena derive the confectionery industry today.
The recipe has remained almost unchanged over the centuries, with some nice variation that gave birth to the black panforte that includes cocoa and panforte Margherita with a more delicate taste and covered with powdered sugar instead of pepper; this one is dedicated to the Queen Margaret of Savoia on a visit to Siena in 1879.

 
Here’s the recipe for 10 people:
- 60 g of flour
- 150 g of honey
- 100 g of sugar
- 200 g of peeled and lightly toasted nuts (almonds and hazelnuts)
- Spices: an abundant sprinkling of cinnamon, a pinch of pepper, a sprinkling of nutmeg

- 200 g of candied citron
- 100 g candied orange peel

Cook together sugar and honey with a little ‘of water, when the sugar is melted add the candied fruit (cut into small cubes) and bring to a boiling point, then pour the mixture into a large bowl and add the flour, a little sugar, spices and chopped nuts. Mix well and pour the mixture into a round baking pan lined with flour. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees. Allow to cool and dust the surface with icing sugar.

 

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PIAZZA DEL CAMPO (CAMPO SQUARE) IN SIENA

piazza del campo siena PIAZZA DEL CAMPO (CAMPO SQUARE) IN SIENA

HotelSienaBorgo Grondaie is glad to share with you a little history of our beautifulSiena. Through a series of posts we will discover the origins of the most important places of the city. Let’s start with the heart ofSiena, Piazza del Campo (Campo Square).

Conceived as a center of civic and collective life of the medieval city, Piazza del Campo still has a configuration like that one of the fourteenth century. It ‘a closed urban structure that communicates with the outside through a series of cleverly masked gates and arches and ends with the magnificent background of the Palazzo Pubblico  and Torre del Mangia.
The skyline and the structure of the Piazza del Campo are not born by chance, but during the years of its construction, the government of Siena has gradually enacted laws in order to standardize the architectural style and align the profile of the perimeter and space, an example is the demolition of  the church dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul (located between the existing  St. Peter and St. Paul alleys) because too protruding from the perimeter that the surrounding buildings were defining. The area that would become the square of today, was originally a reclaimed land to allow rain water running off and while the central part of the city was higher in the Castelvecchio area, the future”Campo” was an area for the markets close to the main roads.
The first document which mentions the placement of the Campo Square dates back to 1169; the Square is cited as “Campus Sancti Pauli” and refers to the entire valley, which also includes the current Piazza del Mercato. The news of the subdivision there was in 1193, when the Square is called “Campus Fori” (acting as livestock, poultry and wheat market) and there was the construction of a dividing wall perhaps placed as a barrier because of the soil erosion. In this way the “Campo” acquires the appearance of a half shell while around the wall and on it the government starts the construction of a nucleus of buildings containing the Customs offices ( for oil and salt) and the so-called Bolgano i.e. the place for the minting of coins.

The floor was much later, in fact, the construction started in 1327 and ended in 1349. Even today the centre of the square is paved with handmade bricks laid edge on.The floor is divided into nine strips of travertine in memory of the “Government of the Nine” (1285-1355). The current travertine balusters date back to 1800.

The development of Piazza del Campo is closely linked to the construction of the City Hall (Palazzo Pubblico) ……. but we’ll talk about next time!

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RICCIARELLI COOKIES

 RICCIARELLI COOKIES

At Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie we like ricciarelli cookies, a typical Sienese delicacy made of almonds to be enjoyed especially during the Christmas season, but still very good all year round!

 
These delicious cookies seem to have origins in the Middle Ages, related to the production of marzipan that people from Siena certainly knew by the Crusaders returned from the East, and even the name seems to derive from “arricciatelli” to remember the shape of the slippers of the sultans of Orient.
This excellence got, in 2010, by the European Community , the IGP certification according to which the production phase must take place in a limited geographical area, in this case the territory of Siena.
Hoping to please all food lovers or just curious, here are the recipe for Ricciarelli (directly from the book “The places of taste in Siena”). Enjoy your cookies !!!

 

-          1 kg sweet almonds

-          A small amount of bitter almonds, according to taste.

-          1,5 kg sugar baking powder

-          Ammonium bicarbonate (3 g for every kg of dough) or baking powder (5 g for every kg of dough)

Grind the almonds, mix together all ingredients and knead until the paste is smooth and uniform. Weigh the paste and add baking powder as indicated. Shape into small lozenges and dust with powdered sugar. Bake on wafer or waxed paper for about 10 minutes in a 200°C oven.

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CHRISTMAS TREE AND ITS ORIGINS

 CHRISTMAS TREE AND ITS ORIGINS

Soon it will be Christmas and we are all accustomed to the image of the tree decorated with shimmering lights and many gifts at its feet. However, who really knows the origin of this tradition? At Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie we want to learn more about it.

 
We know that the image of the tree as a sacred symbol of life is a pagan theme known to all cultures in the ancient world, in the Middle Ages and only later assimilated by Christianity.
Christmas coincides with the period of the winter solstice and many civilizations of the ancient world considered this a prodigious event as in Egypt and Syria, where the victory of light over darkness was celebrated (in fact during the solstice the days get longer and announce the return of spring and therefore of life). In some traditions of northern Europe it was usual to burn a tree (a pine or fir tree) and the sparks represented the light of the days to come. Even the druids, ancient priests of the Celts, began to worship the trees during the winter solstice, and especially the fir, an evergreen tree, became a symbol of perpetual life. During the Middle Ages, on December 24th in Germany there was a game of Adam and Eve, a religious game where large fruit trees (symbol of abundance) were hoisted in the squares and asked to recreate the image of Paradise, just later the trees fruit were replaced with fir trees and it was also in Germany that instead of the fruit the first decorations in blown glass appeared. For a long time the tree tradition was typical of the north European areas. In 1816, this tradition began in Vienna at the behest of Princess Henrietta von Nassau-Weilburg, while in France it was thanks to the Duchess of Orleans in 1840. In Italy, the practice is widespread thanks to Queen Margaret in the second half of the nineteenth century.

 

Nowadays, during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II a new tradition has been started, the tradition of setting up a large Christmas tree in the heart of Catholicism that is St. Peter’s Square in Rome. A Catholic interpretation is the one who wants the decoration of the tree as the celebration in remembrance of the wood of the Cross that saved the world … the lights symbolize the light that Jesus brings into the world and the gifts are the representation of Jesus ‘generosity.

 

 
This is what history tells us…. then the legends are quite different:

 

 
- The first legend positions the tree in the Garden of Eden as the tree of life, and when Eve plucked the forbidden fruit the tree leaves withered and became pine needles until the birth of Jesus.
- A second one tells about Adam who, running away from Paradise, brought with him a small branch which later became the fir tree that was used for the Holy Cross.
- And even a story of a child who was lost in the forest and not knowing how to get home, took refuge at the foot of a fir tree that lowered its branches to protect it. In the morning, he realized that the snow and ice, fallen on the branches during the nights, had created many decorations shining to the sun.

- Another legend is connected to the miracle of S. Boniface, who came across some heathens, worshiping an oak tree; they were preparing the sacrifice of a little prince. St. Boniface felled the oak and in its place an evergreen fir, symbol of eternal life, appeared by miracle.

 

 
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