RadicondoliThe area of Tuscany, Italy between the coast and the road joining Poggibonsi, Sienna, the Lake of Bolsena and Viterbo, and the location of Radicondoli, is heavily forested, characterised by spectacular vistas from hilltop towns and under-realised as a destination for visitors, including both Italian and foreign tourists. While the increasing prosperity of the inhabitants and hence of the municipalities has enabled restoration of much of the area, in many ways, Tuscan life continues in the traditional manner and the people are extremely friendly. Costs are significantly lower than near the famous art cities of Tuscany, and unusual wild life abounds not only in the famous Maremma natural park but throughout the forests, making Radicondoli and other town in the area excellent base for a holiday in central Tuscany.
Panoramic view of Radicondoli from the south
Radicondoli is a town of about 1300 inhabitants located in the northern part of the "Metalliferous Hills" on the borders of the Alta Maremma between the Val d’Elsa and the Val de Cecina. It is about 50 km from Sienna and similar distances from Volterra, Monteriggioni, San Gimignano and Massa Marittima. This area of exception panoramic views and authentic Tuscan life is only now being discovered by tourists. The local economy is based mainly on forestry, sheep farming and employment in geothermal areas of the Val di Cecina where electricty is generated and boric acid is extracted. Clouds of steam dotted among the hills mark the position of geothermal power stations.
Radicondoli - a brief historyThe name Radicondoli comes from two German personal names, "Radi" and "Cundulo" or "Cundilo", reflecting Longobard influence, but probably the first settlements in the area of Radicondoli go back to the Etruscans and Romans, traces of whom vanished during the development of the village during mediaeval times.
The Castle of Radicondoli fell under the influence of the Aldobrandeschi Counts, who in 1216 took control of the castle and its lands, annexing them to their domains. In 1221, the Castle of Radicondoli was given to the Republic of Sienna as a symbol of the loyalty of the Aldobrandeschi to Siena. However, the former were at constant loggerheads with Siena, and Radicondoli passed back and forth between them on numerous occasions.
Between 1260 and 1269, the castle was occupied by the Guelphs, who compelled Siena to buy it, but before long Radicondoli became the object of contention among different branches of the Aldobrandeschi family, and this continued right up until the Florentine conquest. In 1554, Radicondoli was annexed to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany by Cosimo dei Medici. Once Radicondoli entered the Florentine orbit, its economy, based largely on agriculture, developed. The domination of the Medici Grand Dukes lasted up until the 18 C, when the Dukes of Lorraine came to the power in this area. The domination of the Dukes of Lorraine, during which Radicondoli continued to prosper, came to an end with the French invasion of the territory during the first decade of the 19 C.
In 1861, Radicondoli was annexed to the new Kingdom of Italy by the King Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy.
Radicondoli - the main sightsRadicondoli was a fortified town rather than a castle per se. The original town walls, which were constructed or reconstructed between 1209 and 1213, have been almost completely incorporated into the fabric of houses so that the walls as such are hard to discern. However, the original elliptical town perimeter is well-preserved. Fortified Radicondoli flourished from the first half of the 13 C to the first half of the 14 C. The main axis of the town was the "strada maestra", today via Tiberio Gazzei, which linked two gates that are no longer extant, the Porta San Martino and the Porta San Pietro. At right angles to this axis is via Sedice which terminates to the south at the single remaining gate of Radicondoli, the Porta a Olla. The latter preserves some of its original structure, including the round stone arch and bracket corbels. At the other, northern, end of via Sedice, there must have been another gate, possibly linked to the Pieve of San Simone. There are many romanesque tower houses along via Tiberio Gazzei, and the Palazzo del Capitano at No. 85 dates back to the 13 C.
Click the small pictures for a larger view
Radicondoli - patrician town houses ("palazzi")There are a number of late Renaissance town houses, mainly 16 C, along via Tiberia Gazzei.
Palazzo d'Elci, called Poggiarello, at No. 90, is of impressive dimensions. It contains the Santa Caterina monastery and the facade, three floors high, is in late Renaissance style.
The current Palazzo Municipale, previously Palazzo Berlinghieri, is at No. 89 and has a wide entrance hall with a pavillion vault and stone door jambs and architraves.
Palazzo Bizzarrini, at No. 24, is a small town housee of brown bricks dating from the 16 C and once the property of Michelangelo Bizzarrini.
Palazzo Lolini, at Nos. 67-69, 16 C, was originally the property of the Bizzarrini family. It passed through the Noferi family, to the Borghi and finally to the Lolini, the current owners. Inside there is a ball room with an orchestral pit supported by columns and decorated by the Siennese painter Luigi Cinatti in late neoclassical style.
Palazzetto Baronti Marchiola, at n. 43, is 19 C. It has a double-arched access gate with a balcony above.
Radicondoli - churches and other ecclesiastical structuresThe current Chiesa del Crocifisso, dating to 1724, is situated at the entrance to Radicondoli. This was originally the location of the Hospice of San Giovanni Battista which provided accommodation for the poor and for pilgrims.
The Collegiata (Collegiate Church) dei Santi Simone e Giuda is the former San Simone parish Church, built in the same period as the town walls (1209-1213) and located in the piazza at the intersection of via Tiberia Gazzei and via Sedice. The Collegiata is built on the basis of a latin cross, with a marble facade, and contains several important paintings.
The Augustinian monastery and the attached Chiesa di Santa Caterina is also on via Tiberio Gazzei. The church is in late mannerist style. The walls are of terracotta bricks and in the entrance portal there is a small terracotta statue of Santa Caterina delle Ruote. A huge canvas portraying the martyrdom Saint Catherine of Alexandria, painted by Sebastiano Folli in 1607, hangs above the main altar.