The Sienese gate facing Florence, a place of clashes and historical battles.
Porta Camollia is one of the oldest gates in Siena and its name is linked to the legend of the foundation of Siena. In the 7th century BC, Romulus, the founder of Rome, is said to have sent the commander Camullio to capture his nephews Senio and Ascani. The commander established his camp in the area where the gate stands today. A document from 1082 mentions the ‘Gate of Camullia’.
Looking up at the top of the door, one can see the inscription Cor magis tibi Sena pandit which means Siena opens a heart bigger (than this gate), dedicated to those who pass through it. The inscription was made to honour the entry into the city of Ferdinand I dei Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. This inscription was made in 1604, when the gate was rebuilt after being completely destroyed in 1555 by the Medici army.
A few metres further down, to the left of the gate, one can see the remains of the Fortino delle Donne (Fort of women), erected in 1526 after the Battle of Camollia between the Republic of Siena and the Republic of Florence.
This fortification was built by Sienese women. To defend their city, three thousand Sienese women, led by the noblewomen Livia Fausti, Fausta Piccolomini and Laudomia Fonteguerri, divided themselves into three groups of both nobles and bourgeois. Armed with picks, shovels and bundles, they physically built the fortification.
The fortification must have contained both cannons and arquebuses, with a firing angle of about 180 degrees. The fort was a huge firearm ready to defend the city on its weakest side, the north side. At the end of the valiant resistance, Siena was forced to surrender. In 1555, the Florentines, with the support of the imperial army, prevailed.