One of the peculiarities of Siena is that the city is surrounded by wonderful fountains. This happens because the city was born on a hill, and for this reason it didn’t have any natural source of water like, for examples, rivers. So the people of Siena worked hard to bring water within the city walls, and they did that by building fountains and underground water roads , the so called “Bottini“.
FONTE DELLE MONACHE: Placed in the Chiocciola’s Contrada. Discovered by a group of volunteers from the cooperation “La Diana”, in 1998. Known by this name, owing to the proximity to two convents, and because the nuns of those convents used to bring their clothes and wash them there secretly. The construction is dated 1328, when the Local Administration decided to build those fountains for the nuns of seclusion. It has 3 entrances: the first one is exclusively for the nuns, the second one in on the outside, connected to a fountain used to wash clothes and to water animals and a third one in the middle. Once you arrive there, you’ll see a small fountain with a wash house and next to it a small tunnel which brings you to a larger room. The tank was the wash house used by the nuns, and next to it there are some stairs, directly connected to the convent. Unfortunately, the fountain is accessible only during some specific days of the year, because the inner part is closed by a gate, and the external part is full of bushes and tall grass. Behind the fountain’s wall there is a small chapel, probably a cemeterial chapel, built in 1697 (as you can see by the date carved into the facade), which was used as a storehouse until the Local Administration with the help of “La Diana” decided to restructure it. The guided tours are free, but they are only set on specific days of the year; they can also be booked, by contacting the coop. La Diana ( firstname.lastname@example.org ), but they will only be set if the number of people is enough to form a group.
FONTI DI FOLLONICA: it’s placed in the so called “Valle di Follonica”, which takes his name from the fountain itself, and that is reachable through an unpaved road that starts from the Leocorno’s Contrada’s garden. It’s not sure about the construction’s date but, thanks to some documents, we were able to see the years of the payments to enlarge the fountains, dated 1226. By that time, they were the most beautiful fountains of the city, but fall into uselessness during 1348, owing to the Black Death that hit Siena, because of their location, out of the city walls. The fountains were organized in a very precise way: the upper part was used by the people to drink, the lower part was used to wasj clothes and to water animals, at last there was a canal where the waste water flowed. In 1903 the fountains were reactivated, and nowadays you can visit them in all their beauty, thanks to the Local Administration, and thanks to the Leocorno’s Contrada that organises many events in that wonderful place. There’s also a legend about that place, that is about a woman and her sorrow. The woman used to go to the fountains to wash her clothes, and one day she met this handsome knight that was watering his horse, and they immediately fell in love. Unfortunately, he was a crusader, and had to leave for the holy land. The man promised the woman that he would’ve come back, so the woman waited for him there everyday, also bringing with her the child born from their love. One day, the child fell into a fountain and disappeared, and the woman was in so much pain that cursed the fountain, stopping the water, and saying that only the return of the man could heal her pain. Nowadays some say that after the sunset, you can hear the woman’s lament, some swear they saw her spirit in pain wandering through the fountains.
FONTE D’OVILE E FONTE NUOVA D’OVILE: The first one, located out of the gate that has the same name, is probably the reconstruction of an original one that disappeared, dated thanks to come historical reports into 1226, and its easily reachable through some stairs in front of the Ovile’s Gate. Inside the walls, instead, there is the New Ovile’s Fountain, dated XIVcentury. The fountain seems different from the others for its line’s elegance and the vivid color of his bricks. It seems that the construction was begun in 1298 and finished in 1303, and that even Duccio di Buoninsegna, a famous italian painter (from siena), took part in it.
FONTE DEL CASATO: Collocated near Piazza del Campo, connected to the same underground water main of Fonte Gaia (one of the most important Fountaints in siena). It was built from 1352 to 1360. It was rarely used because of the stairs that lead to the tank, a bit uncomfortable for things like watering animals. It was even closed and reopened in the ’70.
FONTE DEL MERCATO: Placed under Piazza del Mercato, it has been the wash house of the city since the ’50, and it is still working. It’s not possible to access within the fountain but you can see it through some gates. It is a very simple fountain, owing to the use that it had, it doesnt have any decoration. By some historical documents, we know that its dated XIV century, but the current structure was built in 1920, and it was, for hygenic reasons diveded into different tanks, each with its own nozzle and its drain.
FONTE AL PINO o FONTE DELL’ORTO BOTANICO: also called Fonte di Porta all’Arco o Fonte di Valle Berardi, it is reachable through the path within the Botanical Gardeon of Siena. It is not sure about the date of construction, but is certainly present into a document of the end of the XVI century.
FONTE CACCIALUPI: Also called Fonte di Porta Tufi and Fonte dei Tufi, probably built between XVII and XIX century. It’s located near Tufi’s Gate, into the garden of Caccialupi’s Palace, now sanitary residence, once Work House for the deaf-mute. It has a small tank carved into the rock, and a bigger hexagonal one on the outside, that also nowadays is used to water the underlying Orto dei Tolomei (Tolomei’s Garden).
The Hotel Borgo Grondaie, at only 2km from the city center, is a really convenient location, in a strategical position, to visit all of the places we suggested you. Discover all our special offers on our website www.hotelsienaborgogrondaie.com
See you soon!