Novelleto on the Via Francigena
"Le donne parimente, e gli huomini tutti lodarono il novellare"
In the documents of the Archivio di Stato di Siena Novelleto is already named a thousand years ago. It is often labelled as “Novelleto alla strada” (Novelleto on the road) and “strade” were, according to the Latin tradition, the name given to the great paved Roman roads: parts of this ancient pavement can still be seen near our farm.
The name Novelleto suggests a place where news (novelle) and tales were told by pilgrims coming from cold northern countries and following the Via Francigena in order to reach Rome. In fact, in the Middle Ages, travellers would often find inns where they could change their horses, eat and rest. Since Novelleto was close both to the abbey of Abbadia Isola and to Monteriggioni fortress, it is likely that pilgrims could be found among its guests.
Via Francigena is the pilgrims’ road that led from Canterbury to Rome, one of the most important main roads in Europe in the Middle Ages. It is an itinerary belonging to history, trodden over by thousands of pilgrims aiming for Rome.The importance of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages is undoubted, as undoubted are the three attraction poles for that walking humankind: Rome, the martyrdom place of St Peter and St Paul, Santiago de Compostela, St James’s resting place, and Jerusalem.
Pilgrims never travelled alone, but always in groups, and therefore their routes were at the same time ways to exchange signs and emblems, cultures and languages, laying the first foundations of the Europe to come: as Goethe himself stated, European consciousness was born on the pilgrims’ roads.
In Val d’Elsa, the ancient Via Francigena linked San Gimignano with Poggibonsi, Colle Val d’Elsa, Monteriggioni e Siena, skirting Chianti and then crossing Crete Senesi, moving beside chapels and abbeys, castles and fortresses, hermitages and villages. There is still a whole Medieval world to be discovered, not only by car but also trekking or cycling or, why not, riding a horse.