The Sienese alley where the world ends
On the square in front of the Church of the Holy Spirit, on the right as you look at the church itself, you will see Vicolo di Finimondo.
Today, the Vicolo di Finimondo alley located in the Nobile Contrada del Nicchio neighbourhood has no outlets, ending in a wall where an eighteenth-century tabernacle stands out with the Madonnina di Finimondo, elected by the entire Pispini district as a Marian tabernacle and object of worship.
Every year, on the feast of Our Lady, the children of the Contrada fill the district and decorate the tabernacle.
Finisterre comes from the Latin finis terrae, which translates to ‘end of the world’. In Galicia, it’s where the Camino de Santiago de Compostela starts and finishes.
Finisterre and Finimondo both share the symbol of a shell, which is also the symbol of the Cammino di Santiago and the Contrada del Nicchio, where the high and narrow alley starts from Piazza di Santo Spirito.
On one side is the former convent, now a prison, and on the other is a series of buildings attached to each other. And in the Church of the Holy Spirit, there is a statue of St. James with the shell of Santiago.
The term finimondo ascribed to a dead-end street led Virgilio Grassi, a great connoisseur of Sienese history, to write that the bizarre name came ‘from having no end, almost as if, by popular exaggeration, the world ended in it’.
Actually, the place name finimondo has a very different origin. In the Middle Ages the road passed behind the houses on Via dei Pispini, skirted the Abbadia Nuova, and exited through the gate of Busseto. From this road one reached a farm that was located just outside the walls called, precisely, Podere Finimondo. Therefore, it’s likely that before the construction of the building that blinded the alley, it led to a small doorway that accessed the land of this farm.
Always visible wonder