Who is Luca Cava? “Luca Cava. King, emperor, pope, philosopher, poet, farmer and worker: man in his daily functions. Don’t laugh, think to yourself“. Those who decide to visit San Gusmè, a small but delightful village in the province of Siena, will be greeted at the entrance to the village by a terracotta statue depicting a squatting man performing his physiological needs.
Legend has it that it dates back to the time when a village innkeeper, tired of seeing his customers use the inn as a toilet, decided to build a small room and use it for this purpose. But since none of his rude customers understood what to do, the innkeeper had the statue and the inscription made. A gesture that also gave rise to a festival that is celebrated in early September, the ‘Festa de Luca’. Luca Cava is an imaginary name.
San Gusmè is located exactly in the Chianti countryside of Castelnuovo Berardenga and preserves, in its streets, all the authentic charm of its history.
Its name recalls San Cosma, whose homonymous church was founded in the year 867 and to whom the ancient Pieve of Campi was dedicated. The fortification of the village, until then a village of modest dimensions that developed around the Berardenga abbey, only took place in 1370 following looting and raids by mercenary companies.
The city walls still exist in part today; the village, in fact, is one of the Italian examples of a fortified village. The two gates that gave access to the castle are still preserved today, while sections of the fortification are incorporated into or attached to the village buildings.
Since its foundation, San Gusmè has always been under the influence of Siena and then of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, probably also thanks to its strategic position that, from the top of its hill, dominates the entire valley. Even today, from the strategic points of the town, it is possible to admire incredible views of Siena, the Torre del Mangia and the Duomo.
Although modest in size, the village is a small jewel worth exploring with its characteristic narrow streets and buildings that retain the signs of history. There are no museums, cinemas or pubs: in the village, there are only a few shops, two restaurants and a post office, the services needed for survival.
Author: Eduardo Lubrano