Parish churches, villas and castles
Porta Tufi is one of the access gates to the city. The tower above the round arch is the characteristic of the gate, even if the bertesca and the machiclation were restored only with the restoration carried out between 1933 and 1936, when the two pedestrian walkways on the side were opened
After passing Porta Tufi, we find ourselves immersed like magic, in the countryside that in this area literally caresses the city
The Belcaro Castle , founded at the end of the 11th century by the Sienese Marescotti family, was involved and destroyed in 1376, as happened to the most impressive fortifications and structures in the area, in one of the many war clashes. After the Salimbeni first and then the Salvinis had rebuilt it, it was donated to Santa Caterina da Siena who transformed it into the convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli
The Villa Chigi Farnese, a splendid sixteenth-Century villa, whose design is traditionally attributed to the architect Baldassarre Peruzzi. The villa is surrounded by a large garden and due to its monumental shape is a typical example of a suburban villa intended for rest. Perfectly integrated with the surrounding countryside. It is currently owned by the state and the ministry of cultural and Environmental heritage and, since 1990 its use has been granted to the University of Siena
Parish church of San Giovanni Battista in Ponte allo Spino, remembered since 1189, it is one of the most interesting Romanesque buildings in the Sienese area. The recent discovery in the courtyard of the church of Roman mosaics dated to the 1st century AD makes the hypothesis that one of the first baptismal fonts in the Sienese area was built here. The religious complex is undoubtedly one of the most interesting in the whole Tuscany
Villa di Toiano, the villa is immersed in the Tuscan countryside, a few kilometers from Siena It is a magnificent structure characterized by flowered terraces that offer a breathtaking view of a valley full of greenery and history
Not far away we find the Palazzaccio di Toiano once a castle of the homonymous village, a clearly medieval structure of which precise testimonies remain
All these sites are included within a territory that extends between Siena and Sovicille, on the edge of the woods on the western slope of the Montagnola Senese and the Piana of Rosia, a vast plain washed by Merse (here we find the parish church of San Giovanni Battista, documented as early as the 11yh Century.
Many have written about Siena and its harmonious beauty, in all times, and it is difficult to invent new words to describe its charm, especially if you are not poets. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1995.
José Saramago, a Portuguese writer and Nobel Prize winner, was in love with the city and dedicated words that describe it with brushstrokes of deep emotion and passion.
“And here is Siena, the beloved, the city where my heart is truly pleased”. “The three hills on which it is built make it a city where there are no two equal roads, all contrary to submit to any geometry”. “This wonderful color, the color of the body browned by the sun, but that is also the color of the crust of the corn bread, this wonderful color goes from the stones to the road and to the roofs, softens the sunlight and erases the anxieties and fears from the face”.
“There can be nothing more beautiful than this city”. Piazza del Campo “a square inclined and curved like a shell, which the builders did not want to pave and remained so, as if it were a lap”.
“I look at the old palaces of Siena, ancient houses where I wish I could live one day, with a window of my own, overlooking the clay-colored roofs, the green shutters of the windows, as in the attempt to decipher where this secret comes from that Siena murmurs and that I will continue to hear, although I do not understand it, until the end of life”.
The Val di Merse is the breath of the Terre di Siena, it is sap, it is rest, rest. It is Mediterranean and yellow scrub of brooms, bed of rivers, sometimes torrential at times placid, kingdom of wild and free animals.
In the woods, small villages that have stood still in time, that have not allowed modernity. In the green the treasures of water: remains of mills that in the Middle Ages made the economy of this land, thermal waters where centuries of generations and peoples have bathed, places where they have left traces, even in the DNA of the inhabitants, mysterious civilizations like the Etruscan one, small Romanesque churches, ruined castles. Surprising architectures at these latitudes: stately villas and Italian gardens, cloisters of monasteries with oriental charm as illustrations of “the thousand and one nights”, walls of powerful abbeys that, still, in silence, dominate the territory and radiate mysticism, hermitages where legendary knights laid down their weapons and changed their lives leaving traces that appear to us full of symbology.
Expanse of colors that rest the eyes, sounds of water and silence, smell of earth and smell of salt in the breeze that comes from the sea not far away, taste of fruits of the forest.