Monticchiello rises on a hill surrounded by the Siena countryside near the town of Pienza. The particular beauty of the country designed by millennial work, the valuable urban landscape away from the main lines of communication give the feeling of being in the heart of Tuscany. From the surrounding country this small village shows its cassero tower that stands on top of the roofs of its houses and the remains of the walls and towers of the old castle.
The uncertain Roman origins make the name derived from the Latin Mons Cloelii; traces of Monticchiello are on a document dated 973 where Lamberto Aldobrandeschi hands it to the Badia Amiatina. In an act dated 1156 the count Paltonieri di Forteguerra donates it to Pope Adrian IV, who later conceded the use of the castle, before eventually being sold to the Ordine dei Cavalieri Teutonici. Around 1175 the town is under the political influence of the City of Siena which is also testified by a peace agreement between Siena and Florence in 1208 that imposes taxes to the inhabitants of Monticchiello to finance the debt of Siena.
In June 1233 the consuls of Monticchiello swore an alliance with the mayor of Siena against Montepulciano committing to give no shelter “to woman and child of the enemies, especially the wives and children”. Throughout the 13th century there are repeated border disputes between Monticchiello and Montepulciano, for which intervened in arbitration Siena. In 1250 began the construction of the gate, the Church and the remaking of the walls. The trade and craft developed, starting the most flourishing period for the village.
The decline of Monticchiello begins with the Franco-Spanish war in mid-1500 which recalls the strong resistance to the army of Emperor Charles V. For the Monticchiellesi, forced to face the enemy throwing stones, their effort was recognized and were given an honourable recognition. With the domination of Florence throughout Tuscany under the Medici family the importance of this part of Tuscany gradually declined. On 26 June 1778 the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo decreed the abolition of the Council of Monticchiello that was merged with Pienza, within the civil and administrative reforms of the Tuscany State. The Risorgimento and the history of the unification of Italy is not interested in these places in the countryside.
History dramatically returns here only in 1944 with the partisan strife for liberation. On April 6, the Prefect of Siena sent a large group of men to tackle the Partigiani camped in the county around Montichiello. The fighting saw the fascists departments forced to retreat. The next day German soldiers penetrated in homes and people were crowded outside the main gate. The massacre was avoided thanks to Irma Anghebeni, German wife of a landowner of Montichiello, helped by the local priest.
What to see in Monticchiello
Montichiello is today surrounded by the remains of the town walls with towers mostly cut off. The entrance to the village is from Porta Sant'Agata, with the two defending towers on the side, which still display the emblem of Siena. The urban structure is unusually spacious, without the usual oppressive narrow alleys, with plenty of large squares paved with stone. The inhabitants look thoroughly after the appearance of their houses usually decorated with vases of flowers.
In this enchanting context, heir to an ancient tradition, every summer is on stage the “Teatro Povero” (literally: Poor Theatre) written, directed and interpreted by the people of town. For this it was described as the “true theatre” or “life theatre”. Citizens of Montichiello, reciting themselves, express their own reality, the real existential and social situations.
Among the most important buildings in town centre are the Church of Santi Leonardo and Cristoforo, dating back to the second half of the thirteenth century, with a structure of a single nave and three apses, with the Gothic facade adorned with a highly splayed ogival portal surmounted by a rosette . Inside, transformed in the eighteenth century, there are frescoes of the Sienese school of the fifteenth century, a table of Pietro Lorenzetti depicts the Madonna with Child, kept at the Diocesan Museum, and a small ciborium in Gothic shape, enclosed by an elegant wrought iron grate made by Pietruccio di Betto from Siena.
Going up the hill you come to the ruins of the cassero tower, now private and not possible to visit, of which remains only a tower-based shoe, crowned by a gallery on corbels, partly in ruins. From above a stretch of city wall and the other two towers can be seen, surviving among the olive trees.
After the depopulation of the fifties this corner of Tuscany, for its scenic beauty, has today become a source of great tourist attraction, especially of foreign origin. The income of tourism has decreed a certain well-being in the area, but with it came the appetites and the pressures for new building speculation that threaten to undermine the specificity that makes this village a real jewel, together with the beauty of its landscape.