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The ‘Colonna di Montarrenti”, a melting pot of the world

The journey of Sigerico from Canterbury to Rome in 990 B.C., to take delivery of the episcopal purple from Pope, became famous with his books linked to that trip. And today we want to revive it with the via Francigena.

The Tuscany in the early Middle Ages that he visited was more full of woods than we see today. It was full of new villages and cities which were transforming due to the phenomenon of the “encastellation”, with the building of the defensive wall.

One of these villages, near which Sigerico went close but without noting it, rises in the high valley of Elsa, with a river that flows from the Sienese hills to the north until it converges in the Arno. Its name is Montarrenti and it is populated by farmers living around the territory. It is equipped with defensive walls and two towers, on the difference in height which separates the Arno’s basin from the Ombrone’s basin, and which indicates the ways to Florence, Grosseto, and Siena.

The works over and over generations make this territory as we admire today. The farming and sheep farming brought away a lot of ground to the wood.

Around it, people were employed for silver mining, which has made the city of Siena rich. The development of trading has made streets that intersect in Montarrenti so important.

One who realized it was the Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopoldo II, who decided to reorganise the road system putting a “Colonna” where the three-way junction is. It indicated the distance between the cities themselves, making them easier to reach.

Then, after the Second War World, the industrial development and the new traffic directions of men and goods throughout the motorway turned this angle of Tuscany into a place characterized by “peace” (silence) and memories.

A defeat for history? Just sit down at the feet of the “Colonna of Montarrenti” to look for that balance and that interior peace that the modern and frenetic life deny to us. And let’s immagine the carts that from the Maremma bring the salt in Florence; Or shepherds occupied in the transhumance of their flocks; Or the farmers that take care of the black pig today known as “cinta senese”, making oil and wine…