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Sovicille, historic buildings and Pia’s ghost

Sovicille-StemmaThe territory of Sovicille is located in an attractive area of the Val di Merse suitable for cycling or horse riding. There are numerous historic buildings, castles and medieval churches such as the Capraia Castle, the Church of San Giovanni Battista in Ponte allo Spino, the neo-Gothic Castle of Cella. Also noteworthy is the Pia’s Bridge, linked to the noblewoman Pia Tolomei, subsequently killed by her husband on the unjust charge of treason.

AREA Val di Merse
TYPE rurL TOWN
COORDINATE 43°17’00’’N11°14’00’’E
ALTITUDE 265 m
PRODUCTS cheeses
SPORT trekking , cycling, horse riding
BORDERS Casole d'Elsa, Chiusdino, Monteriggioni, Monteroni d'Arbia, Monticiano, Murlo, Siena (SI)

sovicille mapTourist information siena mapp

Municipality of Sovicille
piazza G. Marconi, 1 – 53018 Sovicille (SI)
phone: +39 0577 582111
[email protected]
www.comune.sovicille.si.it

Pro Loco
via Roma, 27
phone: +39 0577 314503
[email protected]

WHAT TO SEE

Castles of  Sovicille

Castello di Celsa - Sovicille

Capraia Castle

castello capraiaArea Val di Merse
Municipality: Sovicille (SI) – locality Orgia
Type: fortress (8th century)
Phone: +39 0577 342901
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.castellocapraia.com

The first news of the castle dates back to 731, the year in which Warnefrido, administrator of the Lombard king Liutprando, stipulated the foundation deed of the monastery of St. Eugene near Siena. Among the assets assigned to the new institution there was also the castle of Capraia. In the 12th century the fort was restored by the Ardengheschi counts in order to defend their possessions. In the following centuries the castle changed owner several times, although always subjected to Siena. In 1554, while Siena suffered the last and fatal siege of Florence, the food to the besieged city departed from the castle of Capraia.

Upon learning of this, the Marquis of Marignano, commander of the Allied army of Florence, left with 4,000 infantry to Capraia and succeeded in seizing the fortress. No one was spared: soldiers, civilians, old men, women and children were killed, as well as Giomba of Guidoccio Giunti and his wife, owners of the castle. After this atrocious episode Capraia was completely abandoned. The village, much degraded and almost ruined, in the 18th century was bought by the Borghesi family.

Montarrenti Castle

castello montarrentiArea: Val di Merse
Type: fortress (12th century)
Phone: +39 0577 582111
Email: [email protected]

The buildings that are part of the Montarrenti castle date back to 1156. In addition to the towers with pointed arches of pure Gothic style, the original constructions remain the remains of the defense walls, loopholes, plumbing and Gothic and Romanesque doors.

Celsa Castle

villa celsa1Area: Val di Merse
Type: Neo-Gothic historic home (16th -17th century)
Phone: +39 06 6861138
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.castellodicelsa.com

The building, originally a defensive bastion of Siena, was transformed into a residence in the 16th century by the owner Mino Celsi. In 1554, at the time of the last war between Florence and Siena, the complex was destroyed by the militias of the Spanish emperor Charles V. During the 17th century, at the same time as the restoration, a part of the gardens was built, an expression of the baroque culture of the time. In 1802 the property was acquired by the Chigi family, who transformed the residence into a neo-Gothic manor.

A further restoration of the dwelling and the spectacular Italian garden is due to the Aldobrandini princes, who became owners at the beginning of the 20th century. Despite numerous interventions over the centuries, the building has retained its original appearance.

Chiese

sovicille1Ponte allo Spino Church

Church of San Giovanni Battista a Pernina

giovanni battista pernina1Area: Val di Merse
Municipality: Sociville (SI) – locality Pernina
Type: church (9th – 18th century

It was built around 1078, at the behest of the Countess Matilde di Canossa. In the 18th century it was restored in Baroque style but, in the XXth century, it was the object of a further restoration that restored the original Romanesque aspect. The church is a basilica with three naves, apsed, with wooden cover. The parish buildings are flanked by the buildings of the rectory. The whole structure was created with the use of ivory-colored cavernous limestone ashlars, arranged in horizontal and parallel courses.

Church of San Giovanni Battista a Ponte allo Spino

pieve giovanni battista spinoArea: Val di Merse
Municipality: Sociville (SI) – locality Ponte allo Spino
Type: chiesa romanica (12th century

Built in 1189, it has retained its original Romanesque appearance. Inside there is a 16th century panel by Bartolomeo Neroni, called Riccio: Madonna with Child, angels, saints and a bishop.

Monastery of Santa Mustiola

chiostro santa mustiolaArea: Val di Merse
Municipality: Sociville (SI) – locality Torri
Type: monastery (13th – 14th century)

The monastery was built around the 11th century and, in the 13th century, it was the object of a wide intervention. The building has a single nave with Gothic characters in the side walls. Of great interest is the cloister that preserves the Romanesque characters, despite the various restructuring that took place in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Lecceto hermitage

eremo leccetoARea: Val di Merse
Municipality: Sociville (SI) – locality Lecceto
Type: hermitage and church (13th -14th century)
Adress: Via Lecceto, 6
Phone: +39 0577 349393
Email: [email protected]

Built in 1223, the church was rebuilt in 1317 and then enlarged in 1344. In the simple gabled façade there is a buffered eye and a Romanesque portal. The interior, renovated in Baroque style, preserves 14th century frescoes: Hell, Eden, Works of Mercy, Life in Time of Peace and War and Figurations of the eremitical life.

Starting from the 14th century, the hermitage became known because it was linked to the activity of Saint Catherine of Siena and the English theologian William Flete took up residence there. During the Renaissance, the Augustinian cardinal Egidio of Viterbo, a humanist and philosopher, stayed there several times starting in 1502, dedicating one of his works to the monastery, the Panegyricus pro coenobio Ilicetano.

Monuments and places to visit in Sovicille

vila sovicilleVilla Cetinale

Villa Cetinale

villa cetinaleArea: Val di Merse
Municipality: Sociville (SI) – locality Cetinale
Type: storical house (17th century)
Adress: Strada di Cetinale, 9
Phone: +39 0577 311147
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.villacetinale.com

It was built in 1676 to a design by the architect Carlo Fontana, a pupil of Bernini, as residence of Cardinal Flavio Chigi. The construction was carried out in three distinct phases: the villa, the annexes and the garden in 1676-1688, the Tebaid Park in 1698-1705 and the Romitorio in 1716. Cardinal Flavio Chigi left the complex to his grandchildren, who kept it until 1977, when it was bought by the British parliamentarian Lord Antony Lambton. He did a careful conservative restoration. The building, with a quadrangular plan, develops on three floors.

The Citrus Garden, located at the back of the villa, is made up of geometrically patterned flowerbeds, bordered by boxwood hedges. All the flowerbeds are adorned with carved stone peacocks and statues. The Thebaid Park takes its name from the desert area of ​​Upper Egypt inhabited in the Middle Ages by Christian hermits. Located within a wooded area, it includes a tortuous path of penance, among votive chapels, stone crosses and numerous sculptures of kneeling monks.

Pia's Bridge

ponte piaArea: Val di Merse
Municipality: Sociville (SI) – locality Rosia
Type: ponte medievale (13th century)

Since Roman times a bridge crossed the Rosia stream, not far from the homonymous village. Consisting of a single arch, it was rebuilt in the early 13th century for pedestrian traffic only. It was located along the Via Massetana, which connected Siena to the Maremma. According to tradition the name of the bridge derives from the Sienese noblewoman Pia de ‘Tolomei, unjustly accused of treason by her husband (who fell in love with another woman) who would have had her confined in Maremma.

During the sad journey towards exile the woman would have passed right on this bridge. A legend tells that the ghost of Pia de ‘Tolomei appears on full moon nights, completely dressed in white, and that she crosses the bridge without touching it ….

Localities in the surroundings of Sovicille

Borgo di Torri

Area: Val di Merse
Municipality: Sociville (SI) – locality Torri
Type: medieval village (12th century)

Torri is an ancient village of medieval origins that still retains part of the original architecture. It has a perfectly oval shape, with two entrances and walls over 20 meters high. Inside the walls there are houses built with recycled materials since the Middle Ages and a cloister built with two-color marbles, in the same style as the cathedral of Siena belonging to the parish church of Santa Mustiola. From the village depart several paths suitable for excursions and walks on foot, by bike or on horseback. Nearby there are several relais and b & bs located in renovated medieval buildings. There are also resorts frequented mainly by English tourists.

Nearby, the nearby hamlet of Stigliano is worth mentioning, a place that still retains the medieval features highlighted by the Castle of Poggiarello, a fortification developed between the 12th and 15th centuries, which stands on an ancient Etruscan necropolis and two houses- towers that were a fortified farm owned by the Pecci family, Sienese merchants.

Natural Reserves

Alto Merse Reserve

riserva merseArea: Val di Merse
Type: aree naturali protette
Website: www.riservenaturali.provincia.siena.it

The Reserve, of about 2,000 hectares, is divided between the municipalities of Chiusdino, Monticiano, Sovicille. In the southern part, it contains the stretch of the Merse river between the two loops that the water course forms to the north-east of Monticiano and near Brenna. The remaining surface largely coincides with the basin of the Ricausa stream, a left tributary of the Merse.

ART AND MUSEUMS

Museums

Ethnographic Museum od the Wood and the Mezzadria

museo mezzadriaArea: Val di Merse
Municipality: Sociville (SI) – locality Bergolozzi a Orgia
Type: Ethnographic Museum on the rural world
Address: piazzale G. Garibaldi
Phone: +39 0577 582330 / 342097
Email: [email protected]
Times: from Tuesday to Sunday 10.00am-1.00pm and 2.00pm-6.00pm; closed on Monday
Admission: full € 4.00, reduced € 2.00
Services: workshops

The museum is a naturalistic-ethnographic collection on the forest and the rural world and illustrates the work activities carried out outdoors, such as the charcoal burner and the woodcutter. In the museum, located in an old restored barn, there are work tools and lumberjack objects. In addition, paper and audiovisual documents that tell of life and work in the forest, as they were carried out up to half a century ago.

Archaeological sites

Archaeological site of Malignano

malignanoArea: Val di Merse
Municipality: Sociville (SI) – locality Rosia
Type: archaeological site (8th -I 4yh century BC)

It is located near the town of Rosia and contains traces of Iron Age settlements, from the 8th to the 4th century BC. The necropolis is composed of chamber and well-shaped tombs carved into the limestone. Ceramics and coins from the 3rd century BC have been found here. Other necropolises in the area are located in the towns of Orgia, Grotti, Toiano.

ITINERARIES

Routes

Grand Tour di Val di Merse a SovicilleFrom the Wood Museum located in the town of Bergolozzo in Orgia there are some itineraries that wind towards the forest and the Merse river, offering hints of anthropological, botanical, wildlife and landscape value. Along the thematic routes there is the reconstruction of typical environments, such as squeegees, furnaces or charcoal pits, testimony of peasant life and work. Other routes departing from Sovicille touch the agglomeration of Malignano (Etruscan necropolis) and lead to Rosia and the Pia’s Bridge. The routes can be made on foot, on horseback or by bicycle.

GRAND TOUR OF VAL DI MERSE

 

TYPE cycling tour
AREA Val di Merse
DEPARTURE Piazza Marconi a Sovicille
ARRIVAL Piazza Marconi a Sovicille
LENGTH 147 KM
ROUTE TIME 14 hours
DIFFICULTY medium
ATTRACTIONS   San Galgano Abbey, Chiusdino,  Siena, Church of San Giovanni Battista, Stigliano, Torri, Church ofSanta Mustiola
INFORMATIONS

After Eroica and Canale Maestro della Chiana, the Val di Merse Grand Tour is active in the province of Siena, a path of about 147 km completely marked with panels every 10 km. The route develops mostly in secondary roads with low traffic, on a vast area of the Montagnola Senese up to Siena.

Grand Tour di Val di Merse

It starts from Sovicille and continues on the right along the SP 52 “della Montagnola Senese” towards the towns of Ancaiano and Pievescola. From Ancaiano, the road starts to climb again with beautiful panoramic turns up to the Passo dell’Incrociati (505 m s.l.m. km 7.2), a natural watershed between the water basins of Val di Merse (Ombrone) and Val d’Elsa (Arno). Continue on the dirt road towards La Cetina to the Morra farm. The steep descent leads to the intersection with the SP 101 “di Montemaggio”, where you can see the Castle of Celsa. Arriving at the T-junction, you enter the municipality of Casole d’Elsa. At this point the road starts to climb for about 2 km on a regular basis up to the Celsa pass (km 12.5).

On this stage of the itinerary, there is the small village of Marmoraia, where in addition to the great panorama, one can admire the fortified parish church of Santi Maria and Gervasio. Then back on the SP 101 you go down 5 km of descent (km 18) and, just before the village of Scorgiano, turn left towards the town of Pievescola, stopping point with bar, restaurant, grocery. At the roundabout in front of the Parco del Fungo Innamorato, turn right, pass in front of the Romanesque parish church of San Giovanni Battista, and then descend to the intersection with the SP 541 “Traversa Maremmana” (km 24.5) and continue SP 3 “delle Gallerie” following the signs for Mensano and the municipality of Radicondoli. At the junction for Radicondoli, we recommend a detour on the right of about 2 km to visit the fortified village of Radiconcoli. Afterwards, direction Belforte (municipality of Montieri, already in the Colline Metallifere area). Ride along the ridge that overlooks the Alta Val di Cecina and the Cornate mountain range. Once in the Montingegnoli area, take the SP 107 “di Montalcinello” in the direction of Chiusdino (km 39) and now continue on a valley road sometimes flanked by pipes that exploit geothermal energy. At about km 44.6 you reach the village of Montalcinello. At km 49.3 in La Battellona, ​​turn towards Chiusdino which can be reached by climbing for 3.5 km on the SP 31.

Grand Tour di Val di Merse - Borgo di Stigliano

Dopo la visita alla parte vecchia del borgo di Chiusdino, si prosegue per la località di Ciciano e Montieri per poi, in poco meno di 3 km a incrociare la SP 441 “Massetana”. Si imbocca ora la strada provinciale a sinistra (km 56) verso località Palazzetto per proseguire verso l’Abbazia di San Galgano. Si continua quindi in direzione di Siena. Al km 63,6 circa all’incrocio a T del Madonnino si gira lungo la SP 73 bis “Senese Aretina” verso Monticiano, che si raggiunge dopo circa 4 km (km 67,5 circa). Si prosegue verso la SS 223 “Siena – Grosseto” seguendo la SP 32/A “delle Pinete”. La strada inizialmente declina fino al ponte sul Torrente Gonna (km 71 circa), poi sale fino la località di Iesa (km 80), che sorge su un balcone naturale che si affaccia sulla vallata del Torrente Farma, confine naturale tra Siena e la Provincia di Grosseto.

Da Piazza Lama nel centro di Iesa si seguono le indicazioni per Siena e Grosseto. Alla fine della discesa panoramica, affacciata sul Monte Amiata e l’Alta Maremma, si prosegue dritto verso la località Imposto dove si va a destra sulla SP 4 “di Petriolo” in direzione località Montepescini. Dopo 700 m al km 86 circa, si raggiunge l’incrocio per Montepescini – Casabianca fino ad attraversare il torrente Farma). L’itinerario si sviluppa ora su strada bianca in pianura fino alla fattoria de Il Santo. Da lì si scende ripidamente fino al ponte sul fiume Merse. Dal ponte la confluenza fra Merse e Ombrone è a poche decine di metri. Attraversato il fiume inizia la salita più impegnativa dell’itinerario: dalla quota di 130 mt s.l.m. ci si arrampica per 8,5 km circa, attraverso numerose rampe. Dopo 1,3 km si oltrepassa il villaggio di Montepescini e si continua verso Casciano di Murlo. Possibilità di ristoro.

Si prosegue dritto lungo la SP 33 “della Rocca di Crevole” in direzione di Vescovado di Murlo. Dopo 2 km si gira per oltrepassare il Valico del Rospatoio (512 m s.l.m.) e si scende verso Vescovado di Murlo e, poi si prosegue lungo la SP 34/c “di Murlo”, dove si trova un importante Museo Etrusco. Si torna a Vescovado e si prosegue lungo la SP 33 in direzione di Grosseto. Dopo circa 1 km, si gira in direzione di Radi, imboccando la SP 34/b “di Murlo”, panoramica strada bianca.

Al km 115 si gira verso Ville di Corsano e Grosseto. Dal centro di Ville di Corsano si piega a destra sulla SP 46 in direzione Siena. Al km 123,8 circa, si affaccia in direzione di Mugnano. A questo punto è possibile raggiungere Siena con una facile deviazione di 10 km (20 km andata e ritorno). L’itinerario prosegue sempre dritto, si oltrepassa la SS 223 “Siena – Grosseto” su un cavalcavia verso Fogliano fino a San Rocco a Pilli. Si attraversa la frazione e all’incrocio della Villa Cavaglioni si piega a destra in Via del Poggetto verso Stigliano, per percorrere una piacevolissima strada secondaria che scende gradualmente verso la località di Piano di Rosia. Arrivati al km 135.7 si pedala su sterrato fino al bivio con la SP 99 “del Piano di Rosia”. Lungo la strada si incontrano le possibili deviazioni verso Palazzo a Merse, dove c’è un vecchio mulino del 1200, Orgia, sede del Museo Etnografico del Bosco e della Mezzadria, Brenna, l’antico “mare di Siena”, dove è possibile durante l’estate fare un bagno rinfrescante nel Fiume Merse, Stigliano, con le eleganti torri castello e Torri, dove si trova il chiostro romanico policromo dell’abbazia di Santa Mustiola.

Al km 143,6 circa si entra in Rosia, borgo medievale dominato dalla graziosa pieve romanica di San Giovanni Battista. Al crocevia all’ingresso della cittadina si svolta a destra in direzione di Siena e si percorre sempre la SP 73 “Senese – Aretina” fino a Malignano, dove, al bivio si prosegue verso Sovicille fino a chiudere, dopo circa 146,5 km, l’anello del Gran Tour della Val di Merse.

 

Stigliano ring

 

TYPE historic-naturalistic trekking or horseback trail
AREA Val di Merse
DEPARTURE locality Brenna
ARRIVAL locality Brenna
LENGTH 15 km
ROUTE TIME 4 hours
DIFFICULTY easy
ITINERARY CAI N°
ATTRACTIONS  Church of San Giovanni Battista a Ponte allo Spino, Stigliano, Montetigliano farm, Poggio di Siena Vecchia, Torri, Santa Mustiola abbey
INFORMATIONS

Path of historical and artistic interest in the valley of the Merse river and in the thick woods of the surrounding hills. The path touches the Church of San Giovanni Battista in Ponte allo Spino and then heads towards the village of Stigliano and the farm of Montestigliano, to then continue towards Brenna and the Merse river. In Stigliano two towers belonging to the Ardengheschi family are visible, the Poggio di Siena Vecchia, with the remains of a very ancient pre-Etruscan castle, and Torri, where there is the Abbey of Santa Mustiola and the cloister in black and white marble .

Church of Pernina

 

TYPE historical nature trail
AREA Val di Merse
DEPARTURE locality Ancaiano
ARRIVAL locality Ancaiano
LENGHT 12 km
ROUTE TIME 3 hours
DIFFICULTY mediaum
ITINERARY CAI N°
ATTRACTIONS Church of San Giovanni Battista, Romitorio di Cetinale, Villa Cetinale
INFORMATIONS

romitorio villa cetinaleIl percorso, di interesse artistico e naturalistico, attraversa il bosco fino alla Pieve di San Giovanni Battista, per proseguire quindi verso il Romitorio di Cetinale e la Villa Cetinale.

Montagnola

 

TYPE historical-naturalistic and mountain bike route
AREA Val di Merse
DEPARTURE Sociville
ARRIVAL Sociville
LENGHT 12 km
ROUTE TIME 3 hours
DIFFICULTY easy
ATTRATIONS Maligno, Rosia, Pia's Bridge, Borgo di Tonni, Church of Pernina, Villa Celsa, Villa Cetinale
INFORMATIONS

montagnola

Path of scenic, historical and artistic interest that penetrates inside the Montagnola and offers remarkable panoramic views of the city of Siena and the Upper Merse Valley. Starting from Sovicille, the track touches Malignano and leads to Rosia. From here it continues towards the Ponte della Pia and reaches the village of Tonni, where there is a Romanesque church, to then continue towards the churches of Molli and Pernina. Before returning to Sovicille via Ancaiano and the Pieve di Ponte allo Spino, you can visit the villas of Celsa and Cetinale.

CULTURE

History

Sovicille cosa vedereAn interpretation of the origin of the name wants it to be the contraction of a brief description, still in Latin: soavis locus ille or “that sweet place”. It is not entirely accidental that a mosaic from the Roman era was recently discovered while other findings, of Etruscan construction, show that the area was inhabited even in an earlier phase. In a document from 1004 the town is referred to as Suffichillum. The village of Sovicille developed on the border between the possessions of the Bishopric of Siena and that of Volterra, around the year 1000.

At the beginning of the 12th century the bishops of the second city gained control of Sovicille, which was later annexed to the territory of Siena. Around 1240 the village became a free municipality, endowed with its own statutes. However, at the beginning of the 14th century, the town was first invaded by the army of the German emperor Arrigo 7th and then by the militias of Siena, who wanted to regain possession of it. Subsequently Sovicille was besieged by the militias of Florence who, only in the middle of the 16th century, succeeded in completing the conquest. During the whole period of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany the village had a remarkable economic growth. The village then followed the fate of the Tuscan state until the Unification of Italy.

Curiosity

Ponte della Pia - Sovicille

The medieval bridge over the Rosia stream, along Via Massetana (connecting Siena to the Maremma), has always been linked to the figure of the Sienese noblewoman Pia de ‘Tolomei, remembered by Dante Alighieri in the 5th Canto del Purgatorio. The woman was unjustly accused of treason by her husband (who fell in love with another) and was sentenced to confinement in the Maremma.

Here, after a period of semi-imprisonment she would have been killed. During the sad journey towards exile, the woman would have passed over this bridge. A legend tells that the ghost of Pia appears on full moon nights, completely dressed in white, and that she crosses the bridge without touching him ….

GASTRONOMY

Typical Products

Prodotti biologici di Sovicille

In the territory of Sovicille there are numerous farms engaged in organic production in full respect of the environment (see “Shopping” below).

TOURIST SERVICES

Where to sleep in Sovicille

Where to eat in Sovicille

Shopping – wine and typical products

LA BOTTEGA DI STIGLIANO - typical products, cooking class, herbs

Address: Piazza Stigliano, 62 – locality Stigliano – Sovicille (SI)
Phone:+39 0577 345624 / +39 349 49158 / Nicola +39 340 5827873 / Stefano +39 349 1587065
Website: www.valdimersegreen.com
Email: [email protected]
Times: open every day for lunch and dinner 10.00 am – 2.30 pm and 6.00 pm – 10.00 pm / closed Tuesday
Services: typical Sienese cuisine, lunch and dinner, typical products, cooking classes, free wi-fi

Bottega di Stigliano is a short chain kitchen suitable for all budgets and all occasions; a meeting space to share experiences and knowledge, a sales point and gastronomy with the products of local farmers.

The Stigliano workshop is an innovative space dedicated to quality food and agriculture, a multifunctional place where to buy the products of local farmers, taste dishes at “Km 0” and participate in cultural initiatives to deepen the link between what is eat and the environment in which you live. The challenge of the Stigliano workshop is the kitchen with the use of short chain products as a concrete proposal for local food and new entrepreneurship.

LA BOTTEGA

Here you will find a rich shopping basket that respects the seasons and the environment: pasta, meat, organic vegetables, cheeses, Cinta Senese salami, jams, extra virgin olive oil, wines and honey. The producers of the Bottega di Stigliano undertake to provide details on their production techniques with the utmost transparency and honesty. A system of colors and symbols on each shelf will help you understand the origin and characteristics of each product based on the type of agriculture adopted by the company.

COOKING CLASS AND HERBS

In addition to the short chain kitchen service of La Bottega di Stigliano, it organizes cooking classes, seminars on food and wine, tastings with local producers. In the small aromatic vegetable garden used by the kitchen and curated by the Erbandando Association it is possible to learn to recognize the smells, flavors and the use of cultivated and spontaneous plants.

Furthermore, the workshop offers a room equipped for seminars, debates and exhibitions and a reading room with publications on the territory, on the themes of agriculture, food and good practices with games and books for children. In fact, a small room is reserved for children with games where they can also eat independently while the adults are at the table in the nearby hall.