Castello di Spannocchia is the central part, including the medieval tower, the original owner’s villa, and the farm center, of Tenuta di Spannocchia, a centuries-old agricultural estate located about 12 miles southwest of Siena in central Tuscany. The Tenuta is an organic farm and forest and is part of the Region of Tuscany’s Riserva Natural Alto Merse nature reserve. Its landscape includes the medieval stone bridge Ponte della Pia across the Torrente Rosia stream, and the ruins of the Augustinian monastery of Santa Lucia.
Although written records of the estate are very limited, it is known that the Spannocchi family were residents on the property by the early 1200’s. It is believed that the Spannocchi were part of one of the great feudal clans that, along with the church, controlled most of the countryside of Tuscany during the medieval period. Members of the family continued to be active in the life of Siena into the 1800’s, but during that century their fortunes declined until one of the last remaining members of the family sold the property to Delfino Cinelli in 1925. Cinelli, a Florentine aristocrat and writer, bought the property both as an investment and for its value to him as a tranquil place to pursue his writing.
Following the end of the Second World War, the Mezzadria sharecropping farm system began to decline as a result of the advent of modern industrialized agriculture and the general prosperity of Italy. As the population of tenant farmers at Spannocchia dwindled and agriculture declined drastically during the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, the farm gradually took on a new role, providing housing and work space for programs in archeology conducted by the American non-profit Etruscan Foundation, created in 1958 by Delfino Cinelli’s son Ferdinando. Ferdinando’s daughter Francesca Cinelli and her husband Randall Stratton have managed the property since moving to Spannocchia from the United States in 1992. Upon the death of Count Cinelli in March of 2002, his heirs assisted in the creation of the new Spannocchia Foundation and Associazione Castello di Spannocchia to continue the educational and research activities at Spannocchia.