Montefollonico – The jewel village
In ancient times, the name of the town was written Monte a Follonica. The ancient Romans called the people who worked the clothes “Fullones”, so Monte a Fullonico means “place of cloth workers”. In fact, the most important phase of this activity was the “fulling” which allowed the cloth to be subjected to the blows of heavy clubs, generally moved by a water mill. It was therefore necessary to set up the laboratory near a stream water. So, probably the work took place not on the top of the hill where the town is today, but further down, where today are the ruins of the ancient Benedictine Abbey. “S. Maria de Folonico”. In fact, the Salarco stream water flows there, it was necessary for the clothing processes. The squares that are in the Monte emblem indicate the clothes that were beaten, washed and ironed by the Follonici. The village of Montefollonico developed between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, supplanting in importance the places of much more remote origin that were around it, as the village of Orsina, the Church of S.Valentino, the village of Oppiano, and the Feroniano village known today asv Frignano farm. The first historical document in which the name of Montefollonico appears dates back to 1202, when the Sienese promised to send a group of armed soldiers to the castle of Montefollonico to defend it from the attacks of the poliziani (inhabitants of Montepulciano). The pact was stipulated in the Church of San Leonardo. So, on the top of the hill, in 1202 there were already a castle, a church, a mansion and some houses. Then the center of the community had moved from the churchyard of the parish church of S.Valentino and from the Feroniano farmhouse in Montefollonico. The village expanded and its name extended to the whole surrounding area. Many farmers who previously populated the valley abandoned their homes and retired up there. They continued to go down to cultivate the land, but in the evening, it was safer for everyone to go back and shut themselves up inside the castle.
We know that in the centuries before 1000, the territory of Montefollonico belonged to the powerful Ardinughi family and perhaps they chose this elevated and well-defensible place to build a palace and houses for the servants and the artisans. Moreover, the monks of the Abbey owned a “curtis” in Frignano: therefore, the monks, downhill, and the Ardinughi family on the hill, as they enlarged the “curtis” they also accepted all the available personnel, assigned to each employee a job and, as payment, they released to all a part of the products of the earth. Those who wanted to remain independent workers could do so but had to pay taxes and deliver part of the products to use the mill, the crusher and the mill of the “curtis”. The only gain for little landlords was to have a major quantity of products with good seasons, but if some misfortune happened or the crop was bad, he risked dying of hunger. For this reason, little by little everyone asked to become employed by the “curtis”. But when the monastery lost its importance and the land changed owners, having begun the fights between the various villages, then many began to look at the village as a mirage. Subsequently, with the exodus becoming more important, the village expanded again they tried to defense by enclosing the miserable wooden huts within a building made of trunks. So, where in the centuries before the year 1000 was a “Fullonica” farmhouse, the castle was built and took the name of Monte a Follonica.
In April 1229 Montepulciano made its first military action against Montefollonico, starting the long war fought by Siena against Montepulciano and against the Florentine-Orvitan alignment that supported the latter. The poliziani devastated the crops and the flax, burned the huts and cut down vines and trees in the territory of Montefollonico and nearby. In July 1229 the armies of Siena and Orvieto faced each other under the walls of Montefollonico that the Sienese had fortified and equipped with crossbows. In the defense of the castle besieged by the Orvietani in 1229 and 1230, the Sienese made use of boiling oil and greek fire, a mixture of pitch and sulfur set on fire and thrown into glass ampoules over the enemies. During the war, the Orvietans devastated the Abbey of S. Maria located near the castle around 1234. In the following decades Montefollonico continued to be a nerve center in the Sienese defensive system. In fact, measures were taken in 1248 and 1250 to reinforce the walls of the castle. Montefollonico was taken from the Sienese dominion in 1268 by Charles of Anjou, who gave it as a feudal concession to Donosdeo Tolomei. However, it was returned again in 1271 by the same emperor to the municipality of Siena. New fortification works were done around 1300, a period to which the current wall structure should date back. In 1311 Montefollonico had a vicar appointed by the city.
From this moment there is no more historical information about the town (after all also for the other places of considerable importance), until 1543 when the castle surrendered after the siege of the imperial army of Charles V and together with the surrounding territory it entered in the Medici domain. Now the town has grown, in fact it is no longer just inside the walls, but most of the new buildings have sprung up outside the walls themselves.