From the Latin bonus conventus, meaning felicitous or fortunate community: a happy congregation of people benefiting from the fruitfulness of the land and the advantages of the proximity of the Arbia and Ombrone rivers, as well as the excellent position on the important Via Francigena road. Here travelers found food and lodging. Buonconvento is 25 km from Siena, 145 meters above sea level, and covers a territory of about 65 square km. The Via Francigena passed along this main street, lined with the town's most important buildings. It is named for the Soccini family, originally from this area, some members of which were famous Sienese juriconsults. Other family members, religious reformers and contesters of certain Church doctrines, led a movement called "Socinianism"that spread to various parts of Europe.
Historic building in Buonconvento
- PORTA SENESE (SIENESE GATE). This majestic and imposing tower gate was built in 1379 by the Sienese Governors, along with the city walls. It is in typically Sienese style, with a Gothic arch over the entrance, which still conserves its iron-clad wood fittings, restored in 1998. On the front are two emblems, the black and white "balzana" of Siena and that of the municipality of Buonconvento
- MUSEO DELLA MEZZADRIA SENESE (SIENESE SHARECROPPING MUSEUM). Located in the old Del Taja vat storage building, restored in 1997, the museum is a precious container of farming memories, tools and objects, as well as aspects of the landscape and of the life and work of sharecroppers. It includes multimedia spaces with speaking figures, videos, images and educational and cultural laboratories. It is also the site of the Tourist Office.
- CHIESA DEI SANTI PIETRO E PAOLO (CHURCH OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL). This ancient church may date back as far as 1103. Henry VII, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, died here on August 24th, 1313. The church was completely rebuilt in 1705 in a classicizing form and embellished with paintings by the best Sienese artists, currently kept in the local Museum of Sacred Art.
- MUSEUM OF SACRED ART OF THE VAL D’ARBIA. Palazzo Ricci Socini hosts a Museum that displays paintings, sculptures and liturgical objects linked to the territory, produced between 1300 and 1800. This palazzo is also a splendid example of Liberty-style architecture, was designed by architect Gino Chierici at the beginning of the 20th century. It contains precious interior decorations.
- 1191 - King Philip Augustus of France, returning from the third crusade along the Via Francigena, notes having stayed in the mansion of Bon-couvent: his recollection is the earliest historic documentation of Buonconvento.
- 1208 - Buonconvento is taxed 30 lire - a significant sum in those days - by Siena, which is at war with Florence and in need of money. This fact testifies to the economic prosperity the town enjoyed.
- 1313 - Henry VII of Luxembourg, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, in Italy to restore imperial authority, dies on August 24th in Buonconvento after having conquered it.
- 1316 -The town is seized by Uguccione della Faggiola, and by the Perugians in 1358 in their struggle against the Sienese.
- 1371 - Construction begins on the fortifications, and in 1385 the Palazzo of the Podesta' is built.
- 1400 - Buonconvento becomes the seat of a vast podesta' jurisdiction comprising 32 villages.
- 1480 - The Sienese Governors concede to Buonconvento the privileges of Sienese citizenship.
- 1559 - With the fall of Siena, Buonconvento becomes part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany under the powerful Medici family. It maintains the podesta' jurisdiction, and remains the most important town in the Arbia River Valley.
For art lovers, the countryside around Buonconvento offers interesting occasions. The Parish Church of Santa Innocenza in Piana is a fortified complex documented as far back as 1081. Vi1la di Piana boasts a residence that was one of the "granges" of Siena's historic Hospital. Castelrosi has an example of a Medieval fortified farm, partially restored in the 20th century. The XII¬ century Castle of Bibbiano is enclosed within a compact ring Wall, and nearby is the castle-villa La Torre. Castelnuovo Tancredi offers an architectural complex: with a donjon, a 16th-century villa, a farmhouse and a church. Also interesting to visit are the farms of Chiatina, Armena, Casale Sergardi, Serravalle and Resta.
LIBERTY STYLE IN BUONCONVENTO
Buonconvento also means Liberty, a typically urban style that took hold here as well, putting the town on the map in the world of art and good taste. A unique example in the province of Siena, Liberty style here took a serene, refined form that played on materials, colors and decorative effects, in exteriors as well as in highly "floral" interior decorations consisting of frescoes, stained glass and wrought iron. Examples include Palazzo Ricci Socini, Palazzo Farnetani, Palazzo Ricci, the old Grisaldi del Taja preschool, Palazzina Sensi and Palazzina Castell8ni Bettarini, all located along Via Soccini, Via Roma and Via D.Alighieri. On the Cassia road heading towards Rome stands the Villa La Rondinella, another magnificent example of Liberty style, designed by the architect Gino Chierici.