Sigeric the Serious: Via Francigena, Seocine (Siena), Circa 990 AD

A number of historians have referred to an ancient Etruscan settlement known as Sena, and the legends tells that the city was founded by the two sons of Remus (one of the brothers who was nursed by the she-wolf) who had escaped from Rome riding two horses. One of them was white and the other black.  For this reason the “balzana”, Siena’s coat of arms, has both white and black on it. Later, when the settlement was conquered by the Romans under Augustus, around 10 AD, it took on the name of Sena Iulia.

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The Balzana

Siena underwent a period of flourishing financial and political development from the 10th century, mainly due to its strategic position along the Via Francigena, the safest route from northern Italy to Rome. “At this time the city had grown out of its initial nucleus of Castelvecchio, placed high on a hill. Beneath this ancient settlement a number of hamlets had formed into three-pronged star shape, which is still visible today within the old city walls”. (http://www.sienaonline.com)

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Map of Siena by Braun and Hohenberg, 1572

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Map of Siena by Pietro Bertelli, 1599

As Siena had no nearby fresh water source, aqueducts and complex irrigation systems were made in and around the city. During the early middle Ages, fountains could already be found all over the city. They eventually became the gateways to the city. The Fontanella, Vetrice  and the Fontebranda fountains were the earliest to be build according to historians. Today, the still existing Fontebranda fountain, located in the Contrada dell’Oca, is associated with the birth and early life of Ste Catherine of Siena.

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