Hidden treasures

The Legend of the Colle di Malmerenda

Mysteries & Legends
Malmerenda

The Legend of the Colle di Malmerenda

Siena in the 1300s would have provided excellent material for a beautiful animated fiction. In fact, the struggles between the most powerful families were a daily given and brought with them their series of murders, duels, unspeakable secrets and arranged marriages. One of the most famous rivalries was the one between the Salimbeni and the Tolomei. These were two families of wealthy merchants who fought to achieve hegemony over the city’s trade. The two factions also had different political convictions: the Salimbeni were Ghibellines while the Tolomei, always loyal to the pope, were Guelphs.

It seems that at some point the two families, perhaps tired of the long and exhausting conflicts, decided to make peace. So the Salimbeni family organized a nice 'snack' on a hill near Siena to which, for fairness’s sake, 18 members for each of the two families would participate. They apparently sat alternately so that everyone sat next to a member of the rival lineage. In short, they tried in every way to create the conditions for a cheerful conviviality. The menu included a delicacy of the time: thrushes on the spit.

Unfortunately, it did not go well, because the Salimbeni had a plan up their sleeves that was rather devilish. Quite far from a snack! Here's how things went: once the tray was brought to the table, it became obvious that there were only 18 thrushes and that half of the guests would have been left on an empty stomach. When a member of the Salimbeni family shouted ‘help yourselves’, the 18 Tolomei rose up to pounce on the delicious little birds. That moment, every one of the 18 Salimbeni stabbed the person who sat near him... and that was the end of the peace that never began!

This event explains the origin of the toponym 'Malmerenda', the name given to the hill near Siena that can be seen along the Cassia. To tell the truth, it seems that the name had already been attributed to it before the 1300s, but we like this little story of the thrushes, so we’ll take that as the official version! To tell the truth, it seems that the 18 Salimbeni are buried in the basement of the Cloister of San Francesco... but even this hypothesis, however fascinating, seems unlikely. How many stories like these are there on the wonderful Siena? Do you want to listen to others while walking along its picturesque alleys? Well, in that case you absolutely have to book our Walking tour in Siena and get taken away by the stories of our expert local guides. Only they can tell you the whole truth about the most intricate events of Siena’s fascinating past.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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