Arthurian splendours at San Galgano. The British legend of King Arthur and his famous Sword in the Stone are known all over the world. But few people know that you can find the same grandeur of Matter in the British in the province of Siena, to be more precise in Chiusdino. Right here, surrounded by Valley of Merse river, there are the ancient Cistercian Abbey of San Galgano and the chapel, which houses the famous sword that Saint Galgan dug into the rock as a sign of abandonment of worldly life to devote himself to prayer and meditation.
The story of San Galgano is shrouded in mystery and it has been the subject of several rewrites. The most accepted story is that of a young man named Galgano Guidotti, born into an aristocratic family of Chiusdino. After a dissolute youth dedicated to luxury, Galgano converted himself after seeing the Archangel Michael in a dream that predicted his conversion. The hermit built a hermitage in Monte Siepi where he lived until his death at the age of thirty-three years. The chapel, which houses the tomb of San Galgano, is also called La Rotonda ( the Rotunda) because of its circular shape and the presence of a hemispherical dome in alternating bands of color. Inside visitors remain fascinated by the alternation of concentric circles of bricks and travertine and the precious frescos of Ambrogio Lorenzetti.



Chapel of Saint Galgano in Monte Siepi

Chapel of Saint Galgano in Monte Siepi



Here it is kept the famous sword embedded in a rock which forms a cross with the stump outside. Several historical reconstructions have found that the sword is from twelfth century. It was also found that the rock was not hollow inside to allow the easy insertion of the sword, but the blade seems to have perfectly past the stone.



Stone in the Stone of San Galgano

Sword in the Stone of San Galgano



Near the chapel there is the Cistercian Abbey of San Galgano, of Romanesque style with Latin cross. It was built around 1218 and after a period of splendor, was abandoned by the few monks who lived there because of the plague of the sixteenth century. He was later robbed and fell into disrepair. Today it is lacking of the floor and the roof, and it is located in a charming and mysterious area.


San Galgano Abbey

San Galgano Abbey

San Galgano Abbey

San Galgano Abbey




However the Abbey of San Galgano is a tourist and cultural destination as well as a place of leisure. Every year is held in the month of July, the Festival of San Galgano, a series of classical and light music. This year Festival 2015 will be held from July 3rd to 26th, and will provide for light music (New Trolls and Black Tunes Martina Salsedo with Ricky Portera. The two evenings will be preceded by performances of some bands, ethnic music (Celtic Night with music and dances), Opera (The Barber of Seville and Rigoletto and the Gran Gala ‘of opera), classical music (with the two concerts of the plan and the performance of Soai Youth Orchestra, Osaka) and, finally operetta (The Widow Allegra).


Locandina Festival  di San Galgano 2015



Val d’Orcia, a Heritage to discover. Inscribed on the world heritage list of UNESCO in 2004, Val d’Orcia is a valley located between Siena and Grosseto. The charm of this hill comes from the presence of a dense vegetation of vineyards, olive groves, cypress, beech and chestnut trees interspersed with ancient medieval villages, castles and isolated monasteries. Its breathtaking sight inspired the artistic genius of Ambrogio Lorenzetti in his cycle of frescoes and paintings of the School of Siena. Perfect destination for the lovers of outdoor walks and bike tours or for those who simply want to relax and enjoy the scenery.


Val d'Orcia

Val d’Orcia


Val d'Orcia

Val d’Orcia


The beautiful villages that are part of the big park of Val d’Orcia are Castiglione d’Orcia, Montalcino, Pienza, San Quirico d’Orcia and Radicofani.

Castiglione D’Orcia is a medieval village located in the center of Val d’Orcia, in a hilly area that stretches from the river Orcia to the slopes of Monte Amiata. Especially known for the tower of the fortress of Tentennano, monument that stands on a hill not far from Castiglione, there are noteworthy monuments in the city such as the Romanesque churches of Santa Maria Maddalena and that of Saints Stephen and Degna, with its sixteenth-century facade , which are home to remarkable works by Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti. It is renowned in the area the presence of hot springs of San Filippo, Bagno Vignoni and Vivo d’Orcia. Among the events we signal the Maggiolata of Castiglione d’Orcia, from 14 to 24 May 2015. Maggiolate are traditional Tuscan feasts linked to the rural world during which groups of singers, called Maggiaioli , celebrate the arrival of summer playing madrigals through the streets of the village that are decorated for the occasion with floral trimmings. As a propitiatory ritual, maggiaioli play verses celebrating the arrival of spring with the hope of prosperity for the farmers: Dawn is breaking and dresses the sun, put on it gold shoes, on the mouth there is a beautiful flower, dawn is breaking and dresses the sun.


Castiglione d'Orcia

Castiglione d’Orcia


Montalcino is a picturesque village surrounded by walls, famous for the production of Brunello wine and honey. The attractions of Montalcino are the characteristic long, narrow tower of the Priori Palace, home of the town hall, the Episcopal Palace and the churches of Saint Agostino, Saint Egidio, Saint Francesco and the Fortress where takes place in July the famous event Jazz&Wine that combines jazz clubs with tastings of wine outdoors.






Brunello of Montalcino

Brunello of Montalcino


Pienza is the largest town in Val d’Orcia, heritage site of UNESCO since 1996. In the city, tourists can take in the sights Pio II Square, whose urban structure refers to the views of the Renaissance, the papal residence at Piccolomini Palace and the Civic Palace. Spring Festival of Pienza is a fascinating event that takes place every year in May. It is a hymn celebrating the arrival of summer with the decoration of the cloisters of palaces and squares with swags and floral arrangements as laurel, ribbons and fruit with many markets of flowers and plants. Typical product of the area is Pecorino of Pienza.






San Quirico d’Orcia is a medieval village surrounded by walls whose most famous monuments are the Collegiate Church of Saints Quirico and Giuditta with the Romanesque-Gothic portals, the Praetorian Palace, Chigi Palace, and Santa Maria of Vitaleta. One of the most important events is certainly the Orcia Wine Festival that takes place the last week of April with wine and local products tasting.


San Quirico d'Orcia

San Quirico d’Orcia


Radicofani is a small village located on Mount Amiata and for centuries one of the most important strongholds of Italy. The most important monument is the Romanesque church of San Pietro, characterized by Gothic arches that has a large collection of pottery of Della Robbia and wooden statues. Other points of interest are the Church of St. Agatha and the Praetorian Palace with magnificent stone coats of arms. One of the oldest traditions of Tuscany taking place in Radicofani is the Holy Week with brotherhoods of the city celebrating holy processions along the town’s streets, with hooded people carrying the cross.





If you want to immerse yourself into the medieval world and get in touch with the authentic Tuscan tradition, do not miss the chance to visit the Val d’Orcia which impresses with stunning scenery and cultural events !

Giorgia Brancato

Hats off to Siena guides association always very attentive to enhancing and promoting  Siena territory.


From November they will start a series of activities to which Borgo Grondaie would love to give prominence, with the hope that citizens and visitors appreciate the wonderful initiatives.


The first event  I want to point out, perhaps because as a mother I feel the need for activities to carry out with my son, it‘s remarkable.  It is to make known the floor of the Cathedral of Siena to children through the story depicted in the beautiful marble and the discovery of the characters shown.


The event is scheduled for Saturday, November 9th at 15:00  meeting point the ticket office of the Cathedral of Siena. The cost is 6 Euro per child and one adult per child has free entrance.


For more information please contact the authorized guides of Siena through their website

Siena is a land of wine and this value is recognized all over the world. Chianti and Brunello’s wineries open their doors to public for tours and tastings on May 26th.
If your intention is to taste many wines remember that there is the possibility of transfers from Siena downtown and for a small rate it will allow you to taste the nectar of Bacchus without worrying about driving.

Enjoy your visit!WINE SHUTTLE 2013 - 26 maggio



For two days, Sarteano, a nice village near Siena (about an hour by car), will be transformed into a wonderful show of colors, art and fragrances. All this thanks to “Artinfiore”, the first festival of flowers and creativity.

Located in the historical center of Sarteano you’ll admire different art installations inspired by the “greenery” theme. It will be also possible to visit the trade show dedicated to flowers , uncommon plants and crafts related to gardening.
The event will also provide children’s workshops and classes for all ages to learn something new about the world of flowers.
You can find more information on :
Source: Siena News

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One thing that we always say to our clients is to follow their instinct because they are their best guide for their holidays in Siena. At Borgo Grondaie we love to give suggestions but to those who seem most curious and not at all frightened by the Italian roads and by our reckless way of driving, we suggest to become discoverers. This is because the beauty of a trip is the surprise,  not all can be planned and  written by others. You need to create your personal holiday in order to make it more emotional.
It may happen that suggestions comes from guests after their experience and discoveries as David, an Australian guest & friend, who suggested a tour in the Brunello area for a visit to Máté winery.
So my partner, my son and I enjoyed a day out in the wonderful Montalcino land. Paul, who knows wines from a professional point of view,  would have been  judge for what we were going to taste. I confess that I love wines and I love to drink wines but my palate is not so improved to the  harmonious mechanisms of wine.
At the arrival at Máté  we met Candice, owner and painter who bought the property twenty years ago together with her husband-writer, transforming their shelter-inspiration in beautiful winery.
I have written the word harmony in the title because this was the first impression entering the property. Their beautiful home surrounded by greenery and well-groomed gardens harmoniously blend into Tuscan ambiance, shows owners’ respect to the place that has hosted them. Candice seems born here as she is at ease with the property. She showed us their little cellar, we spent time talking about  their vineyards and how the various types of soil presented inside their borders have influenced the choice of the various varieties apart from San Sangiovese grosso used for the production of Brunello.

Candice organized the tasting in her kitchen. The table ready with bottles, the fireplace, brick walls and the marble kitchen sink made the atmosphere surreal! Candice had prepared five of their wines. I was immediately struck by the beauty of the artistic labels while wine perfumes filled our glasses.

All wines tasted were of the highest level. They were harmonious, extremely pleasant with complex aromas, very attractive, surely loved by connoisseurs as by  simple wine lovers.
Do you want to discover more?  … Máté waits for you!

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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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