Celle sul Rigo is an old village. The oldest existing houses in the city are from the 13th century, but around the village, there have been found remains from the Etruscans. On a hilltop near Celle sul Rigo there is an Etruscan burial site that has been excavated a few years ago. Etruscans lived in the area from around 600 BC until about year 0, when the Romans took over power of the area. Recently remains have been found from an old Roman settlement, so something suggests that the city has been inhabited by Romans, then abandoned for hundreds of years, like the much larger Etruscan town of Orvieto a little further south.
The first written testimony of Celle sul Rigo dates back to about 1000, where a document certifies that the city belonged to Orvieto. In the Middle Ages, Celle sul Rigo was laying at the border between the Vatican state in Rome and the state of Siena and Florence in what is today Tuscany. Celle sul Rigo is located close to the ancient Roman road Via Cassia, which for hundreds of years connected the western part of the Roman Empire with Rome. Recently, the Italian state has reopened another historic road, the pilgrimage route Francigena, which has led many pilgrims from Northern Europe to Rome. The nearby city of Radiocofani was one of the major "resting places" on this pilgrimage route, but also Celle sul Rigo has been visited by pilgrims. With the reopening of the pilgrimage route, it has been possible to go all the way from the Alps to Rome.
Celle sul Rigo, although people have moved to the big cities to work, is still a very vibrant little town.
Every village in Tuscany has its own city party and it is said that you can travel from north to south and participate in a new city party every evening.
Celle sul Rigo's event is held every year last weekend in May. In the weeks up to the party, the city's women make Pici, which is finger-rolled pasta. This is then sold during the party, of which over 5,000 people are being eaten during the weekend. Pici is the city's food specialty and is wonderfully saturated. In ancient times this was food for poor people, whereas today it has become a little expensive specialty. During the city party, there is entertainment on the square and the city's own orchestra also plays several times during the weekend.
As with most other ancient cities in Tuscany, Celle sul Rigo was strongly strengthened to resist external attacks. In the 1300s, the city had a high city wall and many towers. When you are in Celle sul Rigo today it is still easy to see where the city wall has been, but only a few parts of the original city wall are left. Wars and earthquakes have also changed the city's appearance. Today, the square stands as an open space overlooking the surrounding landscape. In the Middle Ages this place was surrounded by houses on all sides, but an earthquake got the outer houses to collapse.
Celle sul Rigo has also had her ruler family. Bocci-Bianchi's fine family-run palace is still in Via del Teatro. Today the palace is owned by a private. If you ask nicely, you can come in and see the wonderful house. The Count's brother built an even bigger palace right next door, and if you are very lucky you can come in and see the family's own church and the huge wine cellars once the area's largest. The wine cellars are not used anymore but still contain the champagne fats and other wine making equipment.In recent years, Celle sul Rigo has been renovated by its inhabitants and appears as a very beautiful medieval city in Tuscany's typical terracotta colors.
Where to stay when visiting Celle sul Rigo?
Vacanze in Campagna is a rental agency operated by Rita, Maria and Viviana. They are incredibly service-minded and helpful and rent a range of great located houses in the area around Celle sul Rigo. One of the houses we recommend is Macetona, which lies just outside Celle sul Rigo. Macetona has apartments of different sizes, has a pool with and large green areaa around.
Contact Vacanze in Campagna:
Phone: 0039 (0) 578 53729
Address: Via San Giovanni 2, 53040 Celle sul Rigo, Siena
What to eat in Celle sul Rigo?
You should not visit Celle sul Rigo without tasting the local Pici pasta. The Pici is hand rolled pasta served at all the restaurants in the city.
We recommend tasting the Pici Picante which is a pasta in a spicy tomato sauce.
The people of Celle sul Rigo are very active and arrange a number of festivals "Sagra" during the year. The last weekend in May every year there is the Sagra Pici. In the weeks up to the festival, the city's women make Pici, which is then sold during the festival. Normally the festival attract over 5,000 people all eating Pici during the weekend.
What to buy in Celle sul Rigo?
If you are a cheese lover we highly recommend to buy the local cheese. Visit the small supermarket Rita Gori Tabacchi Alimentari at Via Roma where the owner Dino makes his own cheese. Ask Dino's for his own cheese and he will find it for you. It's a hard dry cheese that is perfect to the local Pici pasta.
The same cheeses are used at an event every year, when the different parts of the town compete in being able to roll the cheese the longest distance.