The journey resumes the following morning in Montefollonico, a gem of a hilltown in the municipality of Torrita di Siena. Note the gate of San Salvatore with its two-tailed mermaid, an ancient fertility symbol that was curiously picked up by Starbucks; the watchtowers, the little piazza, and the houses of the nobility, among alleys and orchards. The town was originally called Monte a Follonica, because the Roman word for fabric-workers was fullones, applied especially to those who occupied themselves with fulling, which was usually produced in watermills. Here, the mill was located next to the now-ruined Benedictine abbey, not for nothing called Sancta Maria de Folonico. This little town, which lay on the edge of Sienese dominion and which really grew between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, has a strong connection to water but also to wine: vinsanto, to be precise, a local product that is symbolic of hospitality.
Our route continues to Petroio, the last leg on our tour of the Sienese Valdichiana. Petroio is the homeland of Sienese terracotta, and has a museum dedicated to the history of this craft, in the municipality of Trequanda. "We were all potters once," say the elderly residents of this tiny town. The centuries-old tradition survives in a number of terracotta enterprises, some industrial, some artisan, but most of them lie outside Petroio. But if you go into the main squares, you will see evidence of the tradition stacked on pallets: orci (old oil containers) and lemon bowls, vases and garden accoutrements. Old forms and new, all handmade, either by a professional or an amateur. Anyone here, it seems, is able to fashion a bowl or jug, with the technique known as picio, which gives a nice pasta analogy.