Radicofani is a characteristic medieval village located in front of Mount Amiata, has about 1120 inhabitants and is about 80 kilometers from Siena, on the border with the Val d’Orcia.
While any tourist travels ecstatic through the hills of the Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO heritage site, he cannot but come across the famous Radicofani tower that stands out in the background.
This is the fortress conquered by the brigand Ghino di Tacco, who later became the lord of the “city”. But Radicofani is not only the fortress, it is remembered as a flourishing medieval village especially for the famous Via Francigena.
The ancient post station was, and is located, right here and represented a refuge and a focal place for travelers who went to Rome, following the Via Francigena. The Medici style of the structure still strikes the eye, you can easily see the area used for stables and the particular source built on the opposite side of the station. Many famous people have passed through these lands including: Stendhal, Charles Dickens and Goethe.
In addition to the historical center, purely medieval, and the naturalistic views that can be photographed from the top of the hill, there are also two churches enclosed in this small center. The church of Sant’Agata is a medieval building that contains ceramics attributed to Andrea Della Robbia and other works of art. The parish church of San Pietro is the oldest of the two and is built in Romanesque-Greek style, and also contains ceramics attributed to the Della Robbia school.
Festival of ancient crafts
Radicofani is not only history and art, it is also life. In fact, various events take place during the year; here are the most peculiar ones. The first to be taken into consideration is certainly the Festival of Ancient Crafts. As you can well understand from the name, the ancient traditions are rediscovered here.
This event takes place in the summer and precisely on 1-2 June.
The roots of the city and the ancient crafts that were carried out in the Middle Ages are highlighted: the shoemaker, the carpenter, the knife grinder, the manufacture of wicker baskets, the processing of cheese, making laundry with ash, in short, a real immersion in the year 1000 AD. The strong point of this traditional festival regards the wheat harvest, the threshing with ancient machinery and the “accimatura” of the haystack. All this is obviously colored with itinerant bands, theatrical performances and food stands that cannot miss the much loved refreshment.
“Palio del Bigonzo”
The other folkloristic event that takes place in the town is the so-called Palio del Bigonzo.
In addition to being an important point for the Via Francigena, the medieval village also had a very flourishing wine culture. On 8 September the Madonna delle vigne is celebrated and it is in fact on that day that the Palio was decided. The districts that compete for the coveted prize are 5:
Castello, Castelmorro, Bonmigliaccio, Borgo Maggiore and Contignano.
The event consists of two parts: the competition between archers and the race with the bigonzo.
Archers compete to establish the starting grid of the race; it is a real qualification. Subsequently, pairs of challengers from each district will have to run through the streets of the town carrying a bigon each. The bigonzo was a container used for the harvest and in this context it is ballasted with 20 kg, so as to be fair for all the districts.
Who is the winner? Obviously the district that is faster at the finish in St. Peter’s square.
Even during this folkloric event there are historical re-enactments, processions, flag-wavers, musicians and all this makes us seem to live in another era. The districts are very fierce, the prize is a very coveted prize in the life of the country, there are ridicule, jokes, joys and disappointments. But
at the end of the day, alchemy is found in the taverns of the districts.
Summer pleasures is an event that takes place on the first weekend of July and develops through a series of events: food markets, conferences on agricultural and environmental issues, animation in the Rocca area, astronomical observation of the sky.
Radicofani is a historical gem that lives on image and tradition, on the other hand how can you not notice that imposing tower from the Val d’Orcia?