History of Montisi
Montisi is a small village in the Comune of Montalcino, south of Siena and close to Pienza. It is situated on a hill which marks the border between the vast expanses of the Crete Senesi and the beautiful Val d’Orcia. The origins of the village are Etruscan. Its name probably derives from the name of temple close to the village dedicated to the goddess Iside – hence Monte Iside.
The history of Montisi in records from the Xll century show that Montisi was one of the bases of the Counts della Scialenga who were part of the wider Cacciaconte family. Over many years the citizens of the village of Montisi gained their independence and eventually it became a Comune in its own right.
In 1291, 3 brothers from the Cacciaconte family sought to impose partition on the village. This was fiercely resisted and a year later Simone Cacciaconte attacked the village. He conquered the area by force devastating buildings and the surrounding lands. It is this action that is remembered in the annual Giostra di Simone.
The inhabitants then appealed to Siena for justice and the Cacciaconte brothers were banished. The castle and lands were eventually left by Simone Cacciaconte in his will to the famous hospital in Siena. This is called Santa Maria della Scala. They in turn, built the Grancia which is the fortified grange that stands at the south of the town.
More changes came at the end of the XVII century when Santa Maria delle Scala sold the Grancia to the Mannucci Benincasa family. They built a palazzo for the family close to the main square. This palazzo and the Grancia are still owned and lived in by the descendants of the original purchasers.
In 1777 Montisi ceased to be a Comune in its own right and was amalgamated with Trequanda. In the mid 1800s a deal was struck with San Giovanni D’Asso for a better water supply and Montisi became a ward of that Comune.
Both during and after the World Wars Montisi became involved in lignite mining. A legacy still remains of these skills in the form of a rifugio or refuge. This was dug into a local hill to serve as a hiding place for locals during the bombing of the area when allied forces marched their way through Central Italy. Sadly, as the German forces evacuated the area they chose to blow up the tower attached to the Grancia. This had been a landmark for many miles around and was a smaller replica of the La Mangia tower in Siena.
Today Montisi is an exciting town of some 400 people, known for its olive oil and for its festivities such as the Giostra di Simone and the annual Olive Oil festival.
Recently the Comune was joined with Montalcino building new alliances with a focus on wine, olive oil, truffles and responsible tourism.
There are several lovely places to stay, restaurants to visit and activities to enjoy. Montisi is also within easy reach of many other wonderful places worth visiting.
We hope you will come and see us!