The head of Giomo and the ghost of the botanical gardens

27 sett - testa di Giomo

As you stroll through the streets of Siena, remember to lift your gaze from time to time… some of the facades of the buildings along the street might surprise you!

For instance, why don’t you go and look for the spirit of Brother Giomo?

Near the botanical gardens and the Accademia dei Fisiocritici (which are definitely worth visiting!) in Via delle Cerchia 50 is a niche carved into the facade of a building inside which is a marble head. It depicts a bald, bearded man with a sunken face and ghostly eyes.

According to tradition, this is the head of the Camaldolese monk Giacomo, known as Giomo, who lived between the 12th and 13th centuries in the nearby Abbey of Santa Mustiola and died in 1208 on the battlefield of Montalto della Berardenga, during one of the frequent clashes between Siena and Florence.

Legend has it that after the Sienese defeat, the women who went to recover the bodies of the fallen found Brother Giacomo lying on top of the banner of the Porta all’Arco company and the banner’s cross shone with a light of its own. In this way, his spirit would survive the mortal body.
A historical sidenote: in 1208 military companies didn’t yet exist in Siena, they would be established almost a century later… but legends always have their charm!

According to another story, Giomo is the spirit of the ghost of the botanical gardens, located nearby in Via Mattioli. Here, another Camaldolese friar Giacomo de’ Magagni, nicknamed Giomo, was allegedly hanged in the 16th century following the revelation of his sinful relationship with a nun. Apparitions of his ghost would follow one another over the centuries, until apparently, the ghost himself indicated his burial place, under the caretaker’s house.

Fancy going looking for it?

Where: Via delle Cerchia 50
When: always visible wonder


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