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Historical sites

Underground adventures

Discovering the Labyrinth under Piazza del Campo

Those who stand watching the water that runs from the Piazza del Campo’s Fonte Gaia fountain find it hard to imagine that under Siena’s most famous square, there’s an amazing 25-km labyrinth. It is capable of supplying water to various fountains and wells all over the city. This network of aqueducts is called ‘Bottini’ from the Latin word ‘Buctinus’. The term was first used in 1226 to refer to these barrel vaulted tunnels which are about 1.8 meters high and 0.9 meters wide. The aqueduct was primarily created in the XII and XV centuries to respond to a lack of water; it also includes an area known as the ‘Fontanella’ which probably has Etruscan origins. Today, it is possible to discover these tunnels on foot. Rain water that drips into these underground galleries is collected in a small canal winding toward the fountains. The ‘Bottini’ is divided into two main sections: its primary branch, called Fontebranda (7.5 km), stretches from Fontebecchi and Chiarenna (the northern part of Siena), bringing water to Fontebranda. Though not as deep, its second branch is called Fonte Gaia. The latter is much longer (15.7 km) and feeds the fountain in Piazza del Campo and other sources located at lower altitudes.

Schedule: Spring and fall. Depending on the tunnels’ water level, it is possible to participate in guided visits which must be reserved at least one year in advance. Interested parties should place their requests with the Municipality of Siena.

Cost of visit: 9.30 euro
Access for the disabled: no
Where not a single stone has changed down the centuries
Siena shines perfectly from a distance in its medieval magnificence. The three hills amid which the city rests rise up like an idyllic film set, the old boundaries soften like the past into a countryside that sometimes still seem like the scene painted by Ambrosia Lorenzetti in the Allegory of Good Government in the halls of Siena's city hall. ...