At the far southern end of the Montagnola Senese, in a dominant position with respect to the valley of Merse and the Rosia plain you will find the Village of Stigliano.
Originally made up of three separate towns (Stigliano, Poggiarello and Poggio di Stigliano as reported in the French Land Register of 1813 as well as the Leopoldino Land Register of 1825) this small rural village shares a large part of its historical events with that of nearby Siena. Siena had always had, more or less directly, a considerable influence over this territory (« too close to be neglected and too far to be controlled directly»): proof of this is the presence in Stigliano of ownership of important institutions in the Siena area such as the Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala or of families who were members of the City Government such as the Pecci, Placidi and De Vecchi families.
Stigliano was already a sacred place for the Etruscans who, in the 6th century, established one of their necropolis there, followed by Sextilianus during Roman times. Following a long phase of economic growth, an antique fortress was built by the Ardengheschi around the year 1000, which was then repeatedly damaged by invasions and wars.
It was then handed over to private ‘owners’ and, as a result of subsequent donations, it was passed on to the Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala di Siena who built a Grancia (1318) with the tasks of supervision and administration and it was in this time period that it met with its greatest splendor.
During the 15th century. famines, wars and plagues occurred one after the other, quite consistently, and resulted in an overall reduction of the population. Stigliano maintained its strategic position, however, thanks to the construction by the Arte della Lana of Siena, of a new nearby road which wound through reclaimed lands, connecting Siena to the fulling mills and other mills along the Merse River. Furthermore, the agricultural system which was implemented, that of the sharecropper, represented a solid system of nourishment and economic sustenance for its citizens. Also later on, at the end of the 18th century, under the direct influence of Revolutionary France, this particular work method was a determining factor for the survival of this small outlying village. By way of actions set forth in that period to reclaim territory, It continued to steadily increase, as well as strengthen, its agricultural production.
Sharecropping was able to guarantee self-sustainment, but it never was able to combat a complex immobilization, both demographic and economic, caused by extensive and archaic forms of the management of cultivated lands.
As a matter of fact, toward the end of the 19th century, when general living conditions improved, a significant exodus from the countryside began, driven by economic reasons linked to the establishment of industrial districts.
Over the next several decades, the population of Stigliano saw a substantial demographic decline which lasts to this day. It has led to a progressive abandonment of cultivated lands and of a large part of the homes which, left alone, have suffered considerable neglect.
Today entrepreneurs such as STIGLIANO SVILUPPO s.r.l. are making great progress with active and concrete restoration projects that maintain the area’s unique atmosphere, with investments geared toward enhancing the area.