Chianti, a sip of culture! Today we leave from Borgo Grondaie to explore one of the most famous areas of Tuscany, Chianti. Especially known for the production of the wine of the same name, the Chianti hills are located in a vast area between the towns of Siena, Florence and Arezzo. Gaiole in Chianti, Radda in Chianti and Castellina in Chianti are the “historical” municipalities of the region. These three villages were the ancient terzieri (subdivision of several towns) of the Chianti League, set up as a defensive community under the auspices of the Florentine republic in fourteenth century. The coat of arms of the League was a Black Cock on a gold background, an image that became the symbol of Chianti Classico.


Emblem for the Chianti League

Emblem for the Chianti League


Let’s start our virtual tour with the town of Gaiole in Chianti located between Chianti and Valdarno, near the Massellone stream. Thanks to its strategic position, the country has always been a commercial center for the surrounding villages and castles, and because of this function, it was never fortified. What makes Gaiole a magical place is the presence of castles and ancient churches such as the church of Santa Maria of Spaltenna and Meleto and Brolio Castels. Meleto Castle was an ancient property of a feudal family. Its structure still has a military setting, with the presence of two cylindrical towers placed at the edge of the southern ramparts. Inside there are several furnished rooms decorated in eighteenth-century style and a theater with a stage and an original set design. Various medieval festivals and gala dinners are held in the Castle. Brolio Castle, of Lombard origin, since Middle Ages is the property of the Florentine noble family Ricasoli, which meant the building of a massive fortification due to the danger of its strategic location. Since the twelfth century, Ricasoli Family began production of the famous Chianti Classico and today it is the most ancient and long-lived winery in the world.


Meleto Castle  - Gaiole in Chianti

Meleto Castle – Gaiole in Chianti


Brolio Castle - Gaiole in Chianti

Brolio Castle – Gaiole in Chianti


castello di Brolio wine

Castello di Brolio wine


Radda in Chianti is a village near Siena surrounded by walls. Between an alley and other, it is not difficult to find many restaurants and wine bars to taste excellent local wines. Noteworthy is the Podestà Palace, headquarters of the Chianti League. You can visit the Museum of Sacred Art that houses several masterpieces of the fifteenth century. Those who were in the proximity of this picturesque medieval village in late May, can’t miss the opportunity to attend the event named Radda in the Glass, which this year will take place on 30 and 31 May 2015. During the event you can taste with producer best wines of Radda in Chianti with producers. Also in the days of Radda in Glass will be held an exhibition of Renaissance clothing in the ancient prisons of the Podestà Palace.


Podestà Palace .- Radda in Chianti

Podestà Palace – Radda in Chianti


Radda in the Glass event poster

Radda in the Glass event poster


Third and last village of “Historical Chianti” is Castellina in Chianti, of Etruscan origin, surrounded by crenellated walls. Thanks to its strategic location, since the Middle Ages it has been the center of historical events and battles. The old town has a medieval structure, as it is shown by the countless alleys and Via delle Volte, a covered road set against the ancient walls. Among the places of interest we find the Medieval Fortress and the crenellated tower of the Church of San Salvatore that overlook the town square. The fortress now houses the town hall but was an ancient fortress of the fifteenth century. The neo-Romanesque church of San Salvatore dates from the sixteenth century. Inside we can admire an important fresco representing the Madonna Enthroned, ascribed to Bicci di Lorenzo (1373-1452), a wooden statue of the Renaissance of St. Barnabas, former patron of Castellina. Castellina in Chianti is also the center of the Tuscan gastronomic culture thanks to the presence of numerous wineries where you can taste the famous Chianti wine. In May there is the Pentecost in Castellina with wine tastings, traditional performances, street food and craft markets.


View of Castellina in Chianti

View of Castellina in Chianti


San Salvatore Church in Castellina in Chianti

San Salvatore Church in Castellina in Chianti


Via delle Volte - Castellina in Chianti

Via delle Volte – Castellina in Chianti


medieval Fortress - Castellina in Chianti

Medieval Fortress – Castellina in Chianti






Journey between nature and art at the Chianti Sculpture Park of Pievasciate, in the province of Siena. On the way to this little village, arriving from neighboring towns such as Ponte a Bozzone, Pianella, Vagliagli and Gaiole, visitors will be amazed to find strange and bizarre sculptures such as giants peppers, red telephone boxes and statues that are spaced out with cypresses, presaging the arrival to the Chianti Sculpture Park. The park was born from the idea of spouses Giadrossi who decided to use an area of seven acres of a pristine forest of oak trees the creation of a permanent outdoor exhibition of contemporary artwork.


Yu Zhao Yang - Struzzi Metropolitani - Chianti Sculpture Park

Yu Zhao Yang – Metropolitan Ostriches – Chianti Sculpture Park


Peperoni - Parco Sculture Chianti

Peppers – Chianti sculpture park


Cabine telefoniche - Parco sculture del chianti

Telephone boxes- Chianti sculpture park


The sculptures were made by great contemporary artists from twenty-six countries. After a thorough inspection of the area where their work would be exposed, they tried to create sculptures fully integrated with the surrounding nature. The presence of sculptors from different countries helps to make the park a multicultural place. Each artist has brought something new to the exhibition through the use of different materials: marble, granite, glass or modern installations like neon lights and sounds.


Energia - Costa Varatsos - Parco Sculture del Chianti

Energy – Costa Varatsos – Chianti sculpture park

Labirinto -  Jeff Sawar - Parco Sculture del Chianti

Labyrinth – Jeff Sawar – Chianti sculpture park



Through their sculptures, artists want to convey some messages: in the park there are works with aesthetic purposes and other that are about social issues. Among them, there are the “Rainbow” made by Italian Federica Marangoni which symbolize the fragility of nature and the “Faith and Illusion” from Dolorosa Sinaga, representing the disillusionment towards progress. Very popular is the “Labyrinth” of English Jeff Saward with interactive installations and the sculpture of The “Leapfrog” of Dominic Benhura, one of the best-known exponents of the African tribe art of the Shona, that presents a game played by children.

Fede e Illusione- Dolorosa Sinaga- Parco delle Sculture del Chianti

Faith and Illusion- Dolorosa Sinaga- Chianti sculpture park


The leapfrog – Domenic Benhura – Chianti sculpture park


Arcobaleno - Federica Marangoni - Parco sculture del Chianti

Rainbow – Federica Marangoni – Chianti sculpture park


The park is also important for its Amphitheater surrounded by nature, that enjoys an excellent acoustics. The steps can accommodate up to 250 spectators. Outdoor events are often held, mostly in the months of July and August, with concerts of jazz, opera, tango and many other entertainments. This year the concert season will start on July 14th and will end on August 18th. Chianti Sculpture Park is opened daily from 10:00 am to sunset. The cost of ticket is € 10.00 Adults, € 5.00 children under 16 years.


Anfiteatro - Parco  Sculture

Amphitheatre – Chianti sculpture park





Turisti per casa is the name of the guided themed  tours  that every second and fourth Sunday of the month, until February  2014 will take place in the Pinacoteca di Siena at 11 am, just before lunch . Why not to tale advantage from 20% discount that some restaurants  recognize if you show the Pinacoteca ticket



Borgo Grondaie has a special love for  this museum ,  that is why we have  chosen it as the venue for the 2013 edition of the Digital Invasions  Event. In this regard there is this very interesting  post written by Dominique Papi Cipriani, a professional photographer known  at the time of the  Digital Invasion, who recounts with sincere gratitude the experience of that day.

We join with enthusiasm  this initiative, which has allowed us to investigate the origins of the  Pinacoteca collection  and become aware of curiosities related to certain works such as the Santa Petronilla Altarpiece by Ambrogio Lorenzetti and the dramatic story of the beautiful Ghismunda from Bernardino Mei .
The event is organized by the guides of Siena (Federagit) with the support of Confesercenti of Siena.
Therefore it’s a pleasure to  share with you  the calendar of next visits,  time and topics and invite you to participate because it is really worth it.

sottotetto duomo

It took months of work but on  April the 6th the Cathedral of Siena opens its attics that were never opened to the public.
With an experienced guide you walk  spiral staircases almost hidden from visitors’ view and  in small groups you are taken over the vaulted stars of the right aisle. From there it begins a journey where view range from inside to outside the cathedral. You can visit Ulisse De Matteis windows with the representation of the Apostles and the gallery where you can admire the view on the main altar. From the left aisle  visitors can admire a breathtaking view of the Basilica of San Domenico, the Medici Fortress and the entire cupola of St. John the Baptist.
Much more is to discover if you decide to  participate in an event of historical and emotional impact like no other, organized by Opera – Civita Group
For information

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Today we are going to speak about  wonderful Majesty  painted by Duccio Buoninsegna.  This great artist was able to melt the precious Byzantine style with the French Gothic.

The Majesty of Duccio was commissioned in 1308 to be placed above the High Altar of the Cathedral of Siena. On June 9th 1311, all the enthusiastic citizens carried the Majesty in procession from Duccio’s laboratory to the Cathedral.

The first thing that draw the attention is its complexity.
The great altarpiece was painted on both sides. On the front, which faced the nave, there was the representation of Our Lady seated on the Throne with Child, surrounded by angels and saints. The first four kneeling saints are the patrons of Siena: Ansano, Savino, Crescenzio and Vittore. On the other side, on the back, Duccio painted 26 panels which represented the Passion and Resurrection of Christ (among these the biggest panel is dedicated to the Crucifixion).
The altar piece was originally decorated with a wooden strip (with stories of Jesus’ childhood and life) and a gothic crowning (gable) describing life scenes of Virgin Mary and Christ. In 1505, the Majesty was moved to the altar of S. Sebastian and in 1771 the masterpiece was cut to separate the front side from the back and remove other panels. During this operation  the Gothic frame was destroyed. In 1878 the Majesty, so sectioned, left the Cathedral and was definitively transferred to the Opera del Duomo Museum in Siena, where it still lies today. Unfortunately, during this transfer, some panels were lost and others “traveled” towards foreign museums and collections.
With the Majesty Duccio completed his painting experience on the thirteen century and he became a source of inspiration and a teacher for the following century.

Source:” Tutta Siena Contrada per Contrada” by  Pietro Torriti

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The Majesty of Simone Martini inside the Public Place of Siena is by sure one of the masterpiece of 14th Century.

Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie has already posted articles regarding the Public Palace and its beauties  and  the cycle of frescoes painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Inside the PublicPalace there is a beautiful room called “Mappamondo (World Map Hall)” , the place where the Grand Council Of Nine Delegates met. The room takes its name from a work unfortunately lost. It was a rotating disc made of wood and parchment on which Ambrogio Lorenzetti painted a map representing all the possessions of Siena. Now it remains only the signs on the wall that the rotator motion produced. Under these signs, it’s possible to see the remains of a fresco painted by Duccio.


In this room the work that better represents the political mindset of the Government of Nine is definitely the Majesty of Simone Martini, completed and signed in 1315 (restored later, in 1321). The fresco is one of the most lofty masterpiece of all Gothic painting in Siena.
Under a canopy supported by eight apostles, the Virgin Mary and Child sit on the throne surrounded by angels, saints and other apostles. The large band that frames the composition includes 20 medallions with figures of Christ, prophets, and evangelists. In the Court that surrounds the Virgin, the angels hand out cups full of flowers and the four patron saints of Siena (S. Ansano and S. Crescenzio -kneeling on the bottom left- S. Vittore and S. Savino -kneeling at the bottom right).
Simone Martini, in his masterpiece, differs from the rigidity of Byzantine tradition that can be seen, for example, in the Majesty painted by Duccio di Buoninsegna. It’s possible to see this difference observing the naturalness and human nature of Our Lady’s face, and also the movement of the canopy and the garments, the figures that almost seem to sway and the brightness of pure gold of the throne and haloes.

Representing the image of “Our Lady”, the rulers of Siena want to pay homage to the Virgin. The choice of the fresco demonstrates the desire to create something lasting in order to extend  the message to the future generations. More specifically, this message is the Virgin’s  direct warning  the  the rulers and their governance in order to have always Her protection.
This concept of the common good finds its consecration in the fresco cycle painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti and dedicated to the Effects of Good and Bad Government .

Sources: “Tutta Siena contrada per contrada”by Pietro Torriti / “Storia di Siena ” by Barzanti, Catoni, De Gregorio.

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Sansedoni Palace in Siena is located in Piazza del Campo and it is the most noble palace after the Town Hall. Easily recognizable by its majestic façade made of red bricks, the building has a tower with a rhomboid plan. The tower, built in conjunction with the first part of the palace in the middle of 1200, was 62 meters high, but later it was demolished and today it remains only a part.

The architectural story of the building is very complex, it provides, in fact, over time, for the unification of different distinct dwellings. As previously mentioned, the first news about the building is around the middle of 1200, then a document of 1340 attests to its expansion, finally a total revision between 1600 and 1700 leads to the final renovation thanks to which it’s possible to admire the unique façade that follow the curve of the square and reproduces the style of the Palazzo Pubblico with the new Gothic current typical of the Baroque period.

The building owes its name to one of the most prestigious Sienese families which orders its construction during Middle Ages. The first news about Sansedoni family dates back to 1174 when Sansedonio di Martino is elected consul of Siena. The family soon becomes one of the most famous of the city with members elected to major public offices.
One of the
leading figure is Ambrogio Sansedoni (1220-1286), a Dominican friar who was ambassador to the Pope Gregory X and he managed to revoke the excommunication of the city. Another person worth mentioning is Rutilio Sansedoni built a chapel in honor of Ambrogio Sansedoni, a real baroque jewel where still nowdays the Mass for the anniversary of his death is celebrated.

The interior of the building has beautiful decorations, precious polychrome marbles, inlaid stones and bronzes, the typical splendour of the Medici court to which the Sansedoni’s were devoted . The frescoes with mythological allegorical subjects were painted by members of the Florentine school as Anton Domenico Gabbiani (1697), Francesco and Giuseppe Melani (1726), Giovanni Domenico Ferretti Pietro Anderlini (1745).

Sources: Siena On line / Archivio di Stato Firenze / Siena aperto per restauro.

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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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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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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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