History

The glorious past of PODERE SPEDALONE

…The Romans..Charlemagne..The Lombards..The Benedictine Monks..The Olivetani Monks..The Medieval Pilgrims…

We are just beginning our discoveries of Spedalone’s past…

 

THE ROMANS

 

From our research to date, we think that Spedalone began as a Roman settlement, around 600 AD. Already at that time, Spedalone was a farming community (in the excavations undertaken to restore the farm, we have found a few Roman glass and brick fragments).

The oldest existing part of the farm dates back to about 600 – 700 AD. It was most likely a lookout tower.

History

 

CHARLEMAGNE

 

The north, or “upper”, wing dates back to the Carolingian period (800-850). In 813, while travelling home to France from the papal coronation in Rome, Charlemagne camped with his army on the nearby plain of Castelnuovo dell’Abate. There, his army fell ill. During the night, he had a vision suggesting to him an infusion of local herbs which would cure his comrades.

 

Evidence of such infusion can be found from the herbs growing on the walls of Spedalone. Thanks to the infusion, Charlemagne’s men recovered, and in gratitude, he ordered the construction of the Abbey of Sant’ Antimo, which today is run by monks from Caen, Normandy.

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THE PILGRIMS

 

During that period, Spedalone served as a “Hospitalis Sancti Benedicti”, or rest stop, on the routes, known as the “Francigena”, for pilgrims traveling from France and northern Europe to Rome.

At the time, there were three great pilgrimage destinations: Rome, Jerusalem and Santiago de Compostela. Spedalone stood along a road originating from Buonconvento, which branched off in one direction towards Val di Chiana, past Podere Camprena, Santà Ambrogio and Palazzo Massaini, and in the other towards the Via Cassia, Podere Spissa, Pienza, Spedaletto and on towards Rome.

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THE OLIVETANI

 

n 1381 the monastic order of the Abbey of Monte Oliveto began reconstruction of the Monastery of Sant’Anna in Camprena on the ruins of an old hermitage, and began to buy the lands around the monastery (See Libro delle Stime).

In 1457 the Monastery of Sant’ Anna in Camprena was inherited by Friar Tomaso Ragnoni di Ragnuzzo, along with Podere Poggio Ragnuzzi and Podere Spedalone.

During this period, the two farms, Salvadominici and Spedalone were rebuilt, and an olive press and oil depot were added on to the tower of Spedalone’s upper wing.

During the same period, the dry stone wall terrasses of Spedalone were built and the olive grove was planted on the terrasses.

One can still see in the part of the olive grove below the road half-moon shaped dry stone wall terraces – very few of these remain in Tuscany today. (Listed in the leases in the copy of the Libro delle Stime).

Spedalone was renovated again in 1850 with the addition of the loggia and large wood-burning oven to the “lower” wing.

Until about 1960, three families, in all about 45 people, lived on the farm — two families lived in the lower wing, and one in the upper wing. They cultivated the land on the farm’s approximately 160 hectares, much of which remained forest. The entire ground floor of the farm building housed the animals, including work oxen, sheep and horses.

 

From 1961 through 1970 Graziano Mesina grazed his flock of 3000 sheep on the farm.

From then until now, the farm was used occasionally for social gatherings, but it was never abandoned.

… Other discoveries remain to be made, with patience and perspicacity, by whomever is inclined to look for clues…

… And that is what we are doing!

 

We are, in fact, continuing our research every day, driven by the firm conviction that Spedalone is hiding other secrets and treasures which are seeking to be brought to light so they will illuminate the trail of our past!

Bibliography:
 

E noi lo siamo!

 

Spedalone is cited in “ The First Christian Communities and Roman Roads to Siena, Arezzo and Chiusi”, Alfredo Maroni, 1990, pages 78, 81.

See also, Libro delle Stime from 1500 to 1800.