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The Rural World

From the end of Medieval times until the 1960's the economy of this land stood upon the relationship of the great landowners and the peasants who worked it for them. Century after century and generation after generation. This shaped the very contours of the landscape.


The Sienese countryside is scattered with farms where it is possible to see, learn about, try and take part in the production activity.
This is the way to understand the farming work methods that lead to the cultivation of olive trees or the care of vineyards.

Natural healthy food to taste and savour.

▼ Emotional Travel

Museo della Mezzadria…

Museo della Mezzadria

Inside the Museum, a multimedia set up allows you to know all the figures who participated in the configuration of the landscape through the production. It’s possible to know more about the "master", the farmer, the land agent and the housewife.

In the spaces of the museum you can listen to the stories of the past. In this way, that story will be even more enriched by the oral tradition, testimony handed down by that direct experience of life.

The Museum offers schools some very interesting further learning opportunities.

Museo della Mezzaadria Senese
Tinaia Del Taja - 53022 Buonconvento
Tel 0577 809075

To learn more: www.museomezzadria.it - www.museisenesi.org

The fortified estates

Different landscapes and a single common thread: the Granges, the fortified farms where the harvests and food supplies of the ancient Spedale del Santa Maria della Scala in Siena were stored, when the Institution was not only a hospital, a refuge for pilgrims and an orphanage, but also an economic power owing to the donations it received, mainly in the form of land.
The coat of arms of the Spedale del Santa Maria della Scala, a ladder surmounted by a cross, is visible on all the Granges scattered along this very interesting itinerary, from Cuna, in Val d'Arbia, perhaps the most exemplary Grange from an architectural point of view, to Serre di Rapolano, where the Grange has now become a museum dedicated to the history and activities of the Granges, and Montisi, with its Grange located within the village boundaries, all the way to Castelluccio and Spedaletto.

▼ Emotional Travel

Museo della Grancia…

Museo della Grancia

The ‘Grancia' of Serre di Rapolano represents one of the more important medieval structures that the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala built in the whole territory of Siena. Constructed towards the end of the 13th century, it has undergone a few modifications through the ages. The function of this agricultural estate, within the framework of a museum, is shown here as it pertained to the work with olives and olive oil.  

The museum offers schools some very interesting further learning opportunities.

Museo della Grancia 
Serre di Rapolano - 53040 Rapolano Terme 
tel 0577705055 - fax 0577 705682

To learn more: www.museisenesi.org

Santa Maria della Scala…

Santa Maria della Scala

The antique hospital of Santa Maria della Scala was amongst the first in Europe when, during the medieval times, it opened its doors offering refuge and care to pilgrims on the Francigena road, travelling to Rome.
Now this space is a museum, an archeological collection, diverse shows, permanent and non and workshops and restorative laboratories.
A beautiful series of frescoes, painted on the walls of the ‘Pilgrim's Hall', recounts the story of the hospital and is a wealth of knowledge regarding society of that period and the dawn of medicine and social assistance.

Children will be fascinated by the panels showing the work of carpenters, workers, brick layers, by the clothing of the period, the simple smocks of the artisans and poor pilgrims, the rich particulars of the dress of nobile men, dames, and knights, their hats and shoes.
They will be interested by the depictions of medical visits, the distribution of bread to the pilgrims, the story of the 'throw-a-ways', the orphans which were left at Santa Maria and grew up there, from the wet nurse, to schooling to becoming married, at least for women.

This patronage was thanks in part to donations offered to the institution of the hospital by rich families and often took the form of land and farms in the region. The patrimony of the hospital included monasteries, villas and castles, there were peasants to work the land. Many are the buildings in the area of Siena which bear the symbol of the 'scala' or stairs, that of the hospital, and are witness to the ownership. The biggest and most recognizable are the 'Grance', the great buildings, often fortified, with the objective of defending the harvest, to store the grain and other products of the countryside.

The museum offers schools some very interesting further learning opportunities.

Complesso Muuseale Saanta Maria della Scala
Piazza Duomo, 53100 Siena
Tel 0577 224811 - Fax 0577 224829

To learn more: www.santamaria.comune.siena.it - www.museisenesi.org

The teaching farms

The teaching farms are agricultural concerns, some of which are also agritourisms ( a sort of rural B&B) which practice working in harmony with the land and the environment: natural grazing, production of milk and cheese, the shearing of sheep and the working of the wool, fruit groves of antique variety, fertility of the animals, natural pollination and the cycles of honey production, the care and conservation of bush rows and ponds and the cultivation of medicinal plants and other things as well.
The teaching farms host didactic programs for live-in students which last several days, staying on the farm or for the day or even for a couple of hours.
These programs are open to kids of all ages and are specially designed for classes of school students.
To learn more: www.fattoriedidattiche.provincia.siena.it

The taste laboratory

Here are some recipes of typical Sienese cuisine, easily followed by children. The Sienese cuisine has very ‘poor' origins of a peasant nature and is made using simple ingredients, usually whatever the land offered, season by season.

▼ Emotional Travel

Culture and Flavours…

Culture and Flavours

In the Terre di Siena, the food and agricultural sector is rich in culture and flavours made up of an age-old history and characterised by recognised quality, defended and guaranteed by the strictest and most prestigious product brands

Quality and history, which can be found in the aromatic recipes of Sienese tradition or in the exclusive proposals of the local restaurants and wine stores.

To learn more: www.agricultura.terresiena.it

Museo del Tartufo…

Museo del Tartufo

The first Italian Truffle Museum has recently been inaugurated in San Giovanni d'Asso, a natural bridge between the Crete and Val d’Orcia – an area rich in farmhouses, hamlets and castles. The backdrop for the museum are the underground rooms of the 14th century San Giovanni Castle, 250 square metres for a journey that starts with an overview of European culture. 
The mystery of the truffle” is nurtured by witchcraft, science and eroticism. This is followed by the first of the absorbing sensorial experiences offered by the Museum, in a continuous game through itineraries featuring the sense of touch, with the investigation of several jars, the sense of sound, identifying the footsteps of a “hunting” dog or the noise of the trowel, the sense of taste, with small samples to taste, and, lastly, the so-called “odorama”, a veritable roundabout dedicated to the sense of smell.

The Museum offers schools some very interesting further learning opportunities.

To learn more: www.museisenesi.org

Piazza Gramsci 1 (Castello Comunale) 
53020 San Giovanni d’Asso 
Tel. 0577 803268 
Cell. 340 6452336 
Fax 0577 803101



Let your children prepare them... it's easy and funny!

The Snacks of Long Ago

Try eating one of these tasty, nutritious snacks instead of the packaged ones you buy at the store.

In the autumn, when the olive oil is ‘fresh' and new, nothing is better than a slice of bread (made without salt, our tradition) with oil dribbled over it, a drop of vinegar and a pinch of salt.

For those with a sweet tooth, the slice of bread can be doused with red wine and lightly covered with sugar, delicious!



You'll need slightly stale bread, ripe tomatoes, basil, good olive oil, salt and pepper and onions.

Take the left over bread (made without salt remember!) even if it's a few days old and soak it in a basin of water. When it's really nice and wet, squeeze it really well with your hands (clean ones!), breaking it up into pieces in a nice big salad bowl. Add in the tomatoes that have been chopped up finely, lot's of basil leaves and the onion (if you like it) chopped up very fine. Dress it generously with olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix it all up and let it ‘rest' in the fridge several hours before serving.

The panzanella is a simple dish, made with only a few ingredients but if they're good ones, you have a great meal with wonderful smells and tastes!



Here's what you'll need: chopped, slightly stale bread, garlic, ripe tomatoes, basil, broth, salt and it you like it, pepper.

Sautee the garlic in a sauce pan (ideally you would use one made of terracotta) with olive oil and take it out when it starts to get golden brown. Let the tomatoes cook slowly for 5 minutes in the olive oil. Start to add the chopped up bread, the basil and another piece of garlic (if you like), a little salt and a little pepper. Once the bread has soaked up the tomatoes and oil and cooked for a little while, you may start adding in the broth a little at a time as the bread cooks. The idea is that the bread should cook in all the ingredients and absorb them.
Once the ‘pappa' has taken on the consistency of a thick pudding (should be sort of lumpy too, the bread should retain some of its solidity) and tastes as though it's ready, it probably is.
We bet you'll like it!

And again, the ingredients are simple. One more thing, if the broth you use is nice and strong, don't add salt first, there's always time to add it at the end before serving it.



This is a dish that's served frequently during Easter lunch, as an appetizer, but it is also good as a light second course or a light dinner.

Here's what you'll need: 1 egg for every person eating, tuna fish from a can, one anchovy, washed and cleaned, parsely, capers, black olives and oil if you like.

Boil the eggs until hard, peel them without damaging the whites and cut them in two, scooping out the yolk, again, with care.
Put aside the whites which will serve as small containers later.
Put all the other ingredients together and process them until creamy, the yolks, the capers, (just a few) the anchovy, the tuna and the parsley and add some oil if the mxture is too dense.

Now fill in the egg whites with the cream and decorate on top with half a black olive and a sprig of parsely.



A typical winter cake, in Siena it's eaten during the period of Santa Lucia

Here's what you'll need: Chestnut flour, pine nuts, peeled walnuts, water, salt, rosemary, olive oil and raisins if you like

In a large mixing bowl, put the chestnut flour and add water a little at a time, mixing well so that lumps don't form. Once you've obtained a mixture that's sort of liquid (it slides off the fork) add a pinch of salt, a touch of oil, the walnuts, pine nuts and raisons.

Take a dish that's for use in the oven, wipe oil all over it and pour the mixture into it, adding some twigs of rosemary and a few additional drops of oil on the top. Put this dish into an already hot oven. Once the castagnaccio has a dark brown look to it and appears crunchy, it should be ready. It's good to eat even warm from the oven.


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