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The bottini di Siena

The term "buctinus", probably meaning construction with a barrel vault, appears in a document dated 1226 and gives rise to the name bottini, as the underground aqueducts are still called by all the people of Siena.
An ingenious system of hollowed out tunnels that can now be walked along, and where rainwater, collected in the gorello - a small channel at the base of the walkway - flows until it reaches the historical springs.
The entire ancient water supply system, which stretches for about 25 kilometres between main branches and offshoots, is a fundamental part of the history and culture of the city. There are two main branches of the bottini, the oldest is the Bottino maestro di Fontebranda, which is found at a depth and brings water from Fontebecci to Fontebranda, and the Bottino maestro di Fonte Gaia, built around 1300, which feeds the Fonte Gaia fountain in Piazza del Campo and, with its overflow, it also supplies other minor springs.
From the twelfth century, the lack of natural water sources drove the Municipality of Siena to seek alternatives to satisfy the needs of the citizens. In Siena, water had always been in short supply and what reached the wells from the bottini was not sufficient, plus it was unhealthy water that brought endemic diseases that periodically killed the population. The Sorgente dell'Ermiccio, near the village of Vivo d'Orcia, could have been the solution and, in fact, on 14 September 1895 the Municipality of Siena signed an agreement with the Counts of Cervini, owners of the land where the source flowed, to take water to Porta San Marco in Siena. 
However, thanks to the Municipal Administration of Siena, the ancient bottini, which still supply the historical springs of the city, have been enhanced to promote and manage the entire historical architectural heritage that revolves around the theme of water and for which the city of Siena he also created a museum.

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  • Progetto finanziato a valere sui fondi Legge n. 77 del 20 febbraio 2006 “Misure speciali di tutela e fruizione dei siti italiani di interesse culturale, paesaggistico e ambientale, inseriti nella “lista del patrimonio mondiale”, posti sotto la tutela dell’UNESCO”