Bottini


Useful Information

photography
Fontebranda, Siena
Location: Siena city center.
Open: only for groups after appointment.
[2020]
Fee: yes.
[2020]
Classification: SubterraneaWater Supply
Light: bring torch/headlamp
Dimension: L=25 km.
Guided tours:
Photography: not allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address: Bottini, La Diana, Siena, Tel: +39-0577-41110, Tel: +39-0366-3588181. E-mail: contact
Sindaco del Comune di Siena, Piazza Il Campo 1, 53100 Siena
Rerservation: Tel: +39-0577-292614, Tel: +39-0577-292615. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

photography
Fonte Gaia, Siena
394 first excavation works.
12th cty first aqueducts constructed.
1466 last major extension of the system.
1914 new aqueduct from Monte Amiata constructed.
1918 new water supply completed, bottini not needed any more.
27-JAN-2010 Museo dell’Acqua inaugurated.

Description

photography
Fonte Gaia, Siena

The Bottini are the medieval aqueducts and cisterns of Siena, located below the center of the old city. Until today they collect water and feed the fountains in the city. There are guided tours during summer offered by the La Diana Association.

The tunnels and aqueducts became world famous in 2008 with the James Bond movie . In the opening scene James Bond (Daniel Craig) catches a villain and delivers it in the tunnels where M waits. When the villain is killed by a traitor, he has to chase the traitor through the subterranean cisterns.

The underground waterways of Siena are called Bottini, probably derived from the Latin buctinus which was used as a name of barrel vaults. There were 25 kilometers of tunnels with an gorello, a small channel in the floor of the walkway, which were used to collect the rain water. The rain water was flowing to cisterns which were connected to public fountains.

The people of Siena were actually using collected rain water for centuries, a result of the fact that the city is located on a hill. Water from the surroundings would have had to be transported up the hill at great expense. And actually there was no river or waterway nearby which could have been a source of drinking water.

Be careful on the underground visit, because the passages are frequented by two supernatural species. The omiccioli (little men) are similar to goblins, they dance around and make fun. The fugisoli (fugitives) cannot be seen, they appear as flashes of light. About the same reality has the river Diana, which flows under Siena. There is even a road named after this river, which was never found. And there were various tries, and enormous amounts of money was spent during the Middle Ages without result. Even Dante Alighieri mentioned this vain search in his Divine Comedy.

A good place to start is the Museo dell’Acqua (Water Museum) which is located above the Fonti di Pescaia. In a three level building overlooking the fountain it offers multimedia access to the history and technology of the sources, aqueducts and fountains. The actual underground tours are made only after appointment. There are tours to the Bottino di Fontenuova and to the Bottino di Fontegaia. You need a headlamp, gum boots and your clothes my get wet and dirty. If you are still not satisfied, or if you forgot to make an appointment, the Museo Santa Maria della Scala has several levels which are underground. Beneath a visit to a formerly above ground road which is now underground, you can make a guided tour into a small part of the bottini located below the museum.

You should also visit the fountains of Siena, which are quite impressive and open without any restriction or fee. We recommend the Fontebranda, the Fontana di Pantaneto, the Fontana di Samoreci (Fountain of San Maurizio), or the Fonte Gaia. Actually any quarter of the city has its own fountain. Some are open air, some are huge buildings with open arcs. All of them provided water for people, water for animals, and water for washing. And for good reasons those three purposes were not mixed. The washing part often included a public washing house, where people brought their dirty clothes instead of carrying the water home. Most of the fountains were built in the 11th and 12th century, but most were modernized during the renaissance.