Quiet streets where time seems to stand still, elegant stone houses, flowers in windowsills or climbing up façades, embroidered curtains on the windows: getting lost in the historic centre of a medieval village offers moments of peace and a feeling of timeless grace. If you look close enough, you can even see traditions in the groups of women who sit outside their homes together, knitting a sweater or crocheting. Making and selling wool is a tradition that has never died away, historically one of the most important economic activities for residents in this village, alongside agriculture.
Wool production was introduced in nearby Volterra, first carried out in the home in order to make “wool cloth” for everyday use, and later as a full-on business. In the 1300s, the two villages of Belforte and Radicondoli became important centres in the Republic of Siena for textile production. Some of the houses in Radicondoli still bear traces of the town’s historic vocation, with two arched, stone doors that led to the storehouse and living quarters. Still today, there are businesses that make wool for mattresses.
There are so many things that make Radicondoli the perfect place for a buen ritiro, even if only for a weekend. The beauty of this village in the Metalliferous Hills, the food and the traditions enhance its charm. Even the town’s culture draws people in. The Radicondoli Festival has made use of the surrounding environment and scenery, staging theatre performances, concerts, poetry hikes, readings in the forest and fairy tales for kids. But the village’s symbol is surely the one-of-a-kind Teatro dei Risorti. With only 67 seats, it is one of the smallest theatres in Europe. Following its renovation in 2007, it became a veritable gem in the centre of town.
In the 1900s, there were two theatres in Radicondoli: Teatro della Pappa, frequented by the wealthiest families, and Teatro dei Risorti, for the commoners, which stages light operas, music and concerts. The most highly-anticipated events were the parties that farmers and peasants went to, arriving on their carts or on foot through the fields. When they got into town, they would swap their muddy shoes for their best pair. There are still those who remember the amusing scenes of people “freshening up”: during the dance, the orchestra would randomly call for people to “freshen up,” and the men were expected to offer the women they were dancing with a drink. Considering the poverty of those days, it was often embarrassing for those in the midst of it and fun to watch for those on the sidelines, so much so that these scenes have become the stuff of legends. In order to avoid paying, there were even those who faked sickness, struck by something sudden and mysterious!