During your stay in Siena, after exploring the main attractions; from the majestic Duomo to the great seashell of the Piazza del Campo and then following the wonders of the OPA, Santa Maria della Scala, Palazzo Pubblico... you only have to discover the hidden treasures of the city.
For adventure lovers, the whole experience does not end on the surface!
In fact, Siena, due to its hillside location and lack of major waterways has always had to rely on alternative ways by building an ingenious system of underground passages, the so-called bottini, where rainwater was collected.
Today these ancient underground passages can be visited.
Bottino Fonte Gaia - Photo by gozzo73 su FLICKR
The term "buctinus," probably for the "barrel" vault, first appears in a document from 1226 and gives rise to the name Bottini, by which underground aqueducts are still called today.
"Aqueduct" is not the most correct term to use.
In fact, the Aqueduct has, since ancient times, essentially served to collect rainwater for supply; the Bottini, on the other hand, are an exemplary and therefore invaluable construction since in addition to collecting rainwater they serve to capture water and moisture underground, collecting water from the walls in the form of small drops.
The soft, tuffaceous rock on which the city stands made it possible to excavate this ingenious system of tunnels, which today it is possible to walk through, where the rainwater from the "gorello"-a small channel at the base of the walk-runs down to the historic springs.
The Bottini extends underground in Siena for more than 25 kilometers, representing a central element in the city's history.
The accompanied tour allows small groups to venture into sections of Siena's bottini, more specifically within the Fonte Nuova branch and a portion of the main Fonte Gaia branch.
The bottini are a very ancient and invaluable resource for the city; they are protected by the association La Diana which is responsible for the protection and preservation of the Bottini, the Fonti monumentali and all the historical, cultural and architectural heritage related to the Waters of Siena.
Unfortunately, they cannot be visited in the summer period due to the delicacy of the route, which becomes particularly vulnerable with high temperatures; moreover, this is a priceless heritage that must be preserved, which is why only a maximum of 1000/1200 people are allowed to visit each year, so as to preserve the microclimate.
Both in summer and winter, in fact, the temperature in the underground, like a cellar remains unchanged by the seasons, maintaining a temperature between 15-16 degrees.
To get you even more into the atmosphere of the ‘Bottini’ at the time of their construction, I'll let you read The Legend of the Omiccioli and the Fuggisoli.
This little story will take you to a somewhat magical, almost "Tolkienian" world from the writer of the same name John Ronald Reuel Tolkien author of The Lord of the Rings.
“The underground world of 25 km of loot tunnels is still a dark and mysterious world. It is said that in the days when the spoils were being built, "guerchi," that is, workers digging the tunnels, would occasionally flee scared into the tunnels because they saw strange creatures living there.They claimed to have spotted two types of creatures: the omiccioli and the fuggisoli.
The "Omiccioli" They were leprechaun-like little men, good-natured in spirit, they did not spite men, they just danced and put on a happy face. However, the warriors were very frightened of these creatures despite the fact that they were harmless, because of their strangeness and their belonging to the underworld.
"Fuggisoli," on the other hand, were very mischievous and appeared as sudden and abrupt flashes of lightning, even generating terror in the warriors. The word fuggisoli, would precisely indicate a light as strong as a sun, which appears and goes out immediately afterwards, that is, flees. It could have been exhalations of gas encased in the earth, which when released produced a flash of phosphorescent light, like fatuous fires. Such things sighted by men with no knowledge of such phenomena surely instilled terror, and wine was probably a way to exorcise fear.
To cope with such harsh living conditions, the guerchi would ask for the help of the divinities essential to survive in those conditions.The Virgin Mary in particular was especially invoked. Many traces of this devotion still remain today. There are many terracotta Virgin Marys walled into the walls and many crosses, sometimes carved into the rock with pick axes, to ask for divine protection even under the bowels of the earth.”
Story taken from here
Have we intrigued you?
A unique, sensory experience definitely worth trying.
We remind you, however, for the protection of our clients that this experience is not recommended for anyone suffering from claustrophobia or pathologies otherwise related to the underground environment.
On the website of the City of Siena you can find all the information you need to visit the bottini di Siena. Link: HTTPS://WWW.COMUNE.SIENA.IT/NODE/480
After your underground adventure you will be feeling a bit hungry!
Being in the heart of the city you will be spoiled for choice among Bars, Osterias and Restaurants.
For a quick meal, a good aperitif full of delicacies, a tagliere or a tasty sandwich full of all-Senese flavors we recommend Bernardo Bianciardi's botteghina Du' Cose da Berna. The location is right in the historic center on Via Diacceto, a stone's throw from Piazza del Campo, you can enjoy typical cheeses and cold cuts in a totally bubbly environment!
If, on the other hand, you want to opt for a more traditional lunch or dinner, there is the Antica Trattoria Papei, a historic business opened in 1939 located in Piazza del Mercato, a charming location under Piazza del Campo where you can enjoy the flavors of the Siena lands.
Also in Piazza del Mercato, opposite the Antica Trattoria Papei is instead the Restaurant Casa Tua, a splendid, elegant and precious place that offers not only traditional land dishes but also a fine selection of fish and crudités for all tastes.
If you haven't ordered dessert, down some small stairs at the corner of the square is Tea Room, an atmospheric tea room decorated in retro style, offering a wide selection of fine teas, liqueurs, pastries and yummy cakes.
After a long day of walking around, we look forward to your well-deserved rest cradled in the comfort of Borgo Grondaie!
Visit our website now to get the best rate: HOTELSIENABORGOGRONDAIE.COM
We are waiting for you!