Just like San Gimignano, tall towers once watched over Siena…
Dominance, prestige, power. Towers have always been a symbol of the power of a city and the families that governed it. In Siena, the construction of noble towers began around 1080at the time of the Crusades and continued at least until the mid-13th century, when owning a tower in the city became a symbol of great prestige, so much so that a part of it, even just a window, was brought as dowry at weddings.
Most of the towers were rented by their owners to the municipality, to be used as civil and military prisons or to house the bells that marked the times of city life.
One of the most imposing towers was the Torre Marescotti, in Via di Città, located in the Palazzo Chigi Saracini, now home to the Accademia Musicale Chigiana. Initially, the tower must have been separate from the palace and much higher than it appears today. If the story of the drummer Cecco Ceccolini is true, from the top of the tower one could see the Battle of Montaperti unfold, fought on 4 September 1260 about 10 km from Siena:
‘When the sun went down, a drummer went up to one of the towers of Mariscotti, from where you could enjoy the view over all our people and the people of the Florentine countryside… the majority of people at the foot of the tower were kneeling and praying to God and the Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, for strength and resistance against these damned dogs, our Florentine enemies’.
Even if it was just a legend, this chronicle makes one realise not only the strategic role of the palace and its tower, but also the influence of the Marescotti family. The building was owned by the Marescotti family until the 16th century, before it fell into the hands of the Piccolomini Mandoli family and then the Saracini family, whose name it still bears.
Next to the palace and its tower is the narrow, winding alley of Tone, named after Guido or Guittone Marescotto dei Marescotti who was known as ‘Tone’ and first began construction of the palace next to the alley.
Where: Via di Città 89
When: always visible wonder