Let yourself be enchanted by Montisi: charming hamlet of San Giovanni d'Asso, in the area of Crete Senesi, near Siena, whose name probably derives from a temple situated 2Km away and dedicated to to the goddess Iside (worshipped by the Etruscans).

The charm and natural elegance of Montisi are even enriched by the small Music Academy sited into the ancient castle, dated back to the XIII century, which is the highest point of the village. You'll be able to enjoy great classical music concerts anytime of the year!

The lively 400 souls living here, make this place even more interesting: proud of their origins, the inhabitants of Montisi exploit the beauty of this sorcerous village with festivals and dinners involving everyone.

A taste of history...

In the XII century Montisi was the castle of Counts della Scialenga, native of Asciano and belonging to the family of Cacciaconti that, in 1175, recognized the sovereignty of Siena. About 30 years later, the heads of Montisi's family were sworn in by the Scialenghi, at the head of Siena. This oath of allegiance provided that the Cacciaconti had to reside in Siena for at least 3 months a year and, in this way, the family slowed down the control of Montisi in order to take part in the political life of Siena.

The citizens of Montisi paid a rent to cultivate their own lands, but from that moment had the freedom to manage everything by themselves. This is how Montisi – or Monte Isi, as it used to be called – became a free commune in 1283.

In 1291 the Cacciaconti brothers stipulated an act for the partition of the land rent coming from the hamlet and the castle of Montisi. The citizens did not take up this act willingly, so that an year later Simone Cacciaconti with a group of people attacked the castle and, after a bloody battle, conquered it. Simone realized that he couldn't impose his domination on Montisi anyway, so plundered the inhabitants and set Montisi on fire.

The Giostra di Simone, that disputes very year on Sunday before the 5th of August, during the celebration of the Patron Saint of Montisi (Madonna delle Nevi) is a medieval game that represents this historical event.

You must see the competition that involves the four districts of Montisi: Castello, Torre, Piazza and St Martino. There are various knights symbolizing the "contrade", all armed with lances with the aim of hitting, at the end of a ride at a gallop, the "buratto". The buratto is a ligneous effigy representing the wicked Simone, with a butt on the left arm and a ring called "campanella", while the right arm holds the "flagello", sort of balled whip that will hit the knights' back is they're not quick enough.

The game is very suggestive and offers a real taste of ancient times. The joust is indeed preceded by a costume procession, walk-ons of the four districts, "massari", armigers, drummers and clarion players along with the long silvery trumpets with a martial sound.

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San Giovanni d'Asso

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