Don’t let Montemerano’s humble exterior fool you. The simple, unassuming 15th century walls that surround this small town never betray the incredible charm that hides behind them. The tourists who don’t stop at Montemerano are blissfully unaware of the incredible splendour they’re missing.
It’s a fair hike from the base of Montemerano to its centre. Passing through winding streets and sand brick houses, you get a sense of the town not only as it is for those who live here, but as it was when it was built in the Middle Ages.
And then all of a sudden, the alleyway opens up into a truly beautiful courtyard. Here the stone steps of houses and timber doors are hidden behind climbing ivy and robust vines. Colourful flowers bloom out of old wine barrels. The homes possess a tranquility and character that only comes with age. I have never seen anything more evocative or picturesque.
Still, the locals can’t really see the fuss everyone makes over their town. These are country folk and very little sways them from their daily activities. Most are more than content to sit outside their ancient houses with neighbours, watching everyone else go about their business.
Like much of the Maremma, Montemerano was shaped by the powerful Aldobrandeschi, who are responsible for the town we see today.
But, unlike many Maremman towns, Montemerano still breathes the air of its past. Its rich history, tradition and culture is still alive and well within its walls.
To find out more about Montemerano, check out our online guide.
What to see in Montemerano
Church of San Giorgio: probably built during the first half of the fourteenth century, we have news of the church as early as 1382. During the first half of the fifteenth century the Church of San Giorgio was enlarged and restored, with the addition of the apse and transept. The frescoes date back to the second half of the 1400s. During the 18th century further modifications were made, adding elements of late Baroque art, stucco and plaster altars and a large arch. The church still houses some precious frescoes depicting the stories of St. George and the Dragon, dating back to 1491, the Martyrdom of St. Ursula and the Companions, some paintings depicting the Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine of Alexandria with St. Sigismund, the Christ in Pietà, San Sigismondo, San Giovanni Battista and San Guglielmo, an altarpiece depicting the Madonna and Child in Glory between Saints Sebastian and Fabiano, dating back to 1620.
Piazza del Castello: here stands the ancient castle of Montemerano, an “atypical” castle because it is not a single building but a set of buildings that surround the square, characteristic arches, flowery windows, roofs at different levels and stairs that create a truly unique play of lines and colors. Among the most important historic buildings in the square, certainly the one that belonged to the Aldobrandeschi and Baschi, seat of the Sienese vicars and public offices of the period of the Free Municipality, the Palazzo del Podestà located above the Porta del Castello, the Piazzetta del Forno and the Casa Carli , from the eighteenth century.
Walls: the walls embrace the whole ancient town, initially built between the 13th and 14th centuries, the walls were remodeled during the 1400s. Originally the walls had six towers, four of which are still standing today and in excellent condition. state of conservation. Seen from above, the walls, which have been modified and remodeled in various eras, take on the characteristic shape of a heart.
The events of Montemerano
Feast of San Giorgio: is one of the main events in Montemerano, dedicated to the patron saint of the town and celebrated on April 22-25. During the event, the Palio di San Giorgio takes place, a fixed appointment during the celebrations, the launch of the Balloon, a tradition dating back to the early 1900s, a large balloon made of white paper and built directly by the industrious citizens of Montemerano. Do not miss the historical procession in period clothing.
Feast of the Witches: Halloween is celebrated on the night of October 31st, the most terrifying night of the year! The village of Montemerano, in classic medieval style, is the perfect location for witches, ghosts and monsters, a den of sinister figures who roam the streets of the village, including music, parades and awards and a great DJ set until late at night in the castle square.
History of Montemerano
Regarding the history of Montemerano, we have news since the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, when there were small settlements on the hill or in the immediate surroundings. The development of a first residential nucleus, however, dates back to the Etruscan-Roman period. According to some recent studies, the name of Montemerano, formerly Mons Marianus, derives from that of the consul Mario who in this area, between 88 and 82 BC. he was defeated by Lucio Cornelio Silla, during the civil war.
For many centuries there is no news of Montemerano, until 896 when the new emperor of Rome, Arnolfo, donated the Castle of Montemerano to the Amiata Abbey of San Salvatore. Montemerano remained under the control of the Monastery for over a century, until the year 1000, when the rise of the Aldobrandeschi family began, a noble family of Lucca origin, who immediately managed to conquer Montemerano. Starting from the end of the XII century, Montemerano is a flourishing village of great social and economic importance in the Maremma area, for the whole period of the Aldobrandesca domination, the castle of Montemerano suffered the continuous attempts of conquest by Orvieto and Siena.
Starting from 1210-1220, following the marriage with one of the members of the Aldobrandeschi family, power over the town passed to the Baschi family, of Umbrian origin. Under the rule of the Baschi family, Montemerano experienced a period of great growth, in 1328 the Basques also obtained, by decision of the emperor, the castles of Saturnia, Montauto and Manciano.
In the second half of the 14th century, the Basques countered the expansionist aims of the Orsini, former lords of the County of Sovana and allied themselves with the Sienese.
In 1382 Ranieri, the last representative of the Baschi family, granted, with a deed of sale, the castle of Montemerano to the Republic of Siena. During the Sienese period, for about the whole of the 1400s, Montemerano drew profound benefit from the new government, with economic and urban growth and a better living conditions for its population. Starting from 1407 and up to 1431 the surrounding walls were fortified with the construction of a keep and six towers. In 1489 the Municipal Statute was promulgated – Montemerano was already a municipality since the early 1400s – containing the definition of the city government with a Vicar, three Priors, a Camarlengo and a Council.
In the sixteenth century Montemerano became part of the expansionist aims of Florence, and in 1556 Cosimo I managed to obtain ownership of the town. The Florentine dominion lasted for about two centuries, Montemerano then became a property of the Lorraine, until the day of its annexation to the Kingdom of Italy, in 1860.
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