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  Cetona  
   
 

When you observe the sweet outline of the Cetona Mountain, you can see a castle, skirted by houses, at its slopes: its name in the ancient times was “Scitonia”. In the Middle Ages the Castle was not only object of exchange between the State of the Church and the Republic of Siena, but also scene of violent wars and ransacking. After being under the suzerainty of Siena for quite a long period, it passed under the Medicis’ power about the year 1450. The Cetonese citizens were always looking for their indipendence which they obtained only in the 18th century, when they elected a Podestà, a Doctor and a Preacher: years of peace, stability and prosperity were to follow. In the 20th century Cetona was in the van in the Province of Siena: roads to Chiusi and San Casciano and an aqueduct for drinking water were built. Moreover it was the first village provided with electrical energy produced by a steam engine.
Cetona has recently been elected one of the most beautiful “Borghi” (small villages) in Italy: in fact, it is a place where you can still find a magic atmosphere, loaded with history.

 
     
   
   
 

LIONELLO BALESTRIERI - He was a famous painter who won the First Prize at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. He was really a great painter: both art experts and his fellow citizens appreciated his works. At the beginning he was one of the unknown artists living in Paris at the end of the 19th century. Then he suddenly got fame and success: his painting “Beethoven” won the first price at the Universal exhibition in Paris (1900). So he had new chances: he came back to Italy and became director of the Museum and School of Industrial Art. In 1937, he retired and settled in Cetona, where he kept on painting his friends’ portraits and Tuscan landscapes until his death. In 1998 the Foundation Balestrieri was founded in Cetona with the aim to promote cultural initiatives and events.

PIERO CARBONETTI - He was an illegitimate child, maybe the result of a Cetonese nobleman’s casual affair. He was sure of his condition: so he often went to his presumed father’s villa and claimed to be aknowledged. It was a really embarassing situation.......Therefore, he was sent away from Cetona, then he was emprisoned for disturbance. Later he was embarked on a ship to Latin America. When nobody thought of him anymore, he came back to Cetona at the rhythm of his tin drum, followed by his dogs and the village children. Carbonetti was a costant presence in the life of the Valdichiana villages, first of all Cetona and Sarteano. He had no regular job (sometimes he mended umbrellas) and lived thanks to the people’s solidarity. He was a great walker: he slept under the stars in summer and in the farm woodburning ovens to protect himself from the cold, in winter.You could often find him at the Finoglio tavern in Cetona, sitting on the steps, surrounded by his dogs. He told he had been Garibaldi’s mascot, but nobody knows for sure. It is certain he was the Bersaglieri’s mascot in Siena: they gave him hospitality and new clothes. He missed his family and suffered for the persecution from the public authorities of the time. There is still the clang of his tin drum in the air!

LUCA CONTILE - Man of letters and courtier, he was born in Cetona in 1507. He studied in Siena, but improved his education in Bologna and Rome, where he became cardinal Agostino Trivulzio’s secretary. He was one of the members of the “Accademy of Virtues” and wrote numerous treatises. Ferdinando Gonzaga, governor in the State of Milan, appointed him as a secretary at the Worms Diet. Later Don Ferrante Gonzaga sent him to Poland on a diplomatic mission (1550). He first went to the Cardinal’s court in Trento in 1552 and then to general Sforza Pallavicino’s in Venice six years later. In 1560 he moved to Pavia, where he became commissary of the civil and rural surveys. He was also one of the members of the “Accademia degli Affidati”: he wrote two volumes of letters, the “Rhymes”, the history of England and translated Virgil. His political letters to the Republic of Siena prove he was one of the most enlightened men of his time. He died in Pavia when he was 67 and was buried in the Church of San Francesco. We have information neither about his Cetonese family nor his house. Being a man of science, a philosopher, an eminent historian and a diplomat, he was honoured by princes and cardinals who he helped in hard missions. Contile, who left Cetona as a young man, never came back both for his numerous commitments and his disagreements with his townsmen.

 
     
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