Civitella Paganico is located within the Province of Grosseto.
The Borough, or Comune, of Civitella Paganico is located within the Province of Grosseto. It is bounded on the north by the Province of Siena, on the south by the Boroughs of Campagnatico and Cinigiano, and on the east by the Borough of Roccastrada.
It covers an area of 19,271 hectares that includes the watershed of the Ombrone river. The area is characterized by a hilly landscape and an exceptionally well-preserved environment. Its dense woodlands alternate with cultivated fields, evidence of an economy that is largely based on agriculture.
The villages of the area are surrounded by dense Mediterranean scrub with an exceptional rich variety of plant life of thick shrubs, including juniper, myrtle, heather, cornel and blackberries. In addition there are many large trees including oaks and cypresses. Wild boar, deer, hare and pheasant can be found within this rich environment, while numerous species of aquatic birds can be seen in the areas close to the Ombrone river.
The countryside also boasts the presence of a rare species of the broom plant, namely the genista aetnensis, which blooms in late spring with a multitude of yellow flowers.
In addition to the beauty of the natural environment, Civitella Paganico is proud of its artistic riches associated with different historical periods.
Territory of Civitella Paganico
The "terra murata" or "walled earth" of Paganico was an important factor for the Sienese since it stood as a stronghold within the valley of the Ombrone and formed an outpost amongst the hills which circled the south of Siena. It was therefore created as a new settlement that would serve as a lookout post for the Republic of Siena over the Maremma and well as an outlet to the sea.
The Sienese attached great importance to the birth of this town, also called Castelfranco or Borgo-franco, because of the taxes that were imposed over a period of ten years. This is evidence of the demands made on neighbouring Boroughs in favour of the building of Paganico, and the incentives that were offered to those who decided to settle in the town. Patches of land were distributed for the building of houses, and the Borough of Civitella and the castles of Campagnatico, Sasso, Gello, Monteverdi, Casenovole and Montecodano were ordered to build kilns for the preparation of the cement that would be needed during the building.
Construction of the walls and entranceways began in 1295, and orders were given to recruit men to complete the building of the church. Paganico must therefore have been a very active centre. From 1273 there was a weekly market, and in September there was a grand three-day festival dedicated to Sant'Angelo, which attracted merchants, not only from the surrounding area but also from Siena. This tradition is still preserved to this day, with the village festival organized around the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel.
The fortifications were completed in 1335 at a great financial cost, evidence of the importance the Sienese attached to the town in its role as an outpost for the Maremma and for access to the sea; in particular to the port of Telamone which the Republic had purchased in 1303 from the abbey of San Salvatore on Monte Amiata.
Following the fall of the Sienese Republic in 1555, Paganico fell foul of both sword and fire by imperial troops. The town was partly destroyed and its inhabitants massacred. The region was then annexed to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who in 1602 was made Marquis by Prince Antonio dei Medici, putative son of Francesco I. The height of the bridge house, or quarterdeck, on the town walls indicates that this was the lodging place of the Marquis of Paganico.
The village of Pari has perfectly preserved its original medieval structure.
Set on top of one of the seven hills of the area, several of which are higher-including Poggio dei Lecconi at 600 metres - Pari, as with the other villages of Civitella Paganico, has been a nucleus for settlements as far back as the Palaeolithic age.
Evidence of settlement by the Etruscans, then by the Romans, can also be found in the museums of Grosseto, Siena and Florence.
As with Civitella, the Counts of Ardengheschi chose Pari as their residence. It then came within the orbit of Siena between 1179 and 1254.
At the end of the thirteenth century the territory passed into the hands of other noble Sienese families such as the Rinuccini, the Squarcialupi, the Forteguerri, the Buonsignori and finally to the Malavolti. This last family gave up their property and the jurisdiction of Pari because of the imposition of tolls.
The various incursions into the Ombrone valley, combined with outbreaks of malaria, resulted in a slow decline of the area, including that of the walled village of Pari, although not to the same extent as the other fortified villages. Within the Leopoldine reform of 1766, Pari returned to the "Provincia Inferiore" of Grosseto, and from that time on its destiny became linked to that Province.
Pari was also the spiritual home of the well-known writer Federigo Tozzi (1883-1920). His novels contain descriptions of Pari and the nearby hamlet of Ferraiola.
Casal di Pari
Casale, also known as Casal di Pari because of its proximity to the older village of Pari, is located on a hill at 470 metres. It was another of the small centres of the Ardengheschi family that later came under the control of Siena.
Very little remains of the twelfth-century construction but there is a small square overlooked by terraces and arches.
The original Casale consisted of only a few houses for those who worked in the fields, as well as the building which is still today called La Residenza del Vescovo (the Bishop's residence). This residence was built by Fabio De Vais, a Sienese nobleman in 1573. His coat of arms can be seen on the entranceway off Via Costeggio. However, little remains today of a once noble edifice with distinct and clean architectural lines.
The fifteenth-century church of San Donato was completely restructured in 1700. It is characterized by great simplicity both within and without. Of particular interest is the stone inserted sideways above the jams that support the side door, the Porta degli Uomini. The remains of an inscription can be seen on the stone which appears to read "S. Monachi De Ecclesis Vaecto" ("This was taken from the Church of Santo Monaco"). This stone may therefore have come from the ancient convent in Val d'Aspra that was dedicated to Saint Antony, little of which remains today except part of the ruins of an outer wall.
Today Casale, that ancient village hidden within the woods, is a place where one can breath the clean and healthy fresh air of its antique past. The hill of Monteacuto can be seen from the village. At one time its peak was the seat of a small garrison and a defensive tower but today its ancient ruins are hidden by dense vegetation.