Above: Cosimo I de’ Medici.
1559-1860 and The Grand Duchy of Tuscany
Montalcino had become the last free township of Italy.
On July 31, 1559, the small Republic of Siena gave up and the population’s captain, Alessandro Vannucci, received the Spanish ambassador Don Juan de Guevara and representatives of the Duchy of Florence in the Municipal Palace of Montalcino where he officially surrendered and handed over the keys to the city.
To mark the occasion of his conquest, Cosimo de’ Medici I had his coat of arms, with the Medicean balls, installed on the façade of the tower of the Municipal Palace (on the Cerbaia gate) and on the southwest point of the bastion.
The annexation of Montalcino by the Grand Duchy of Tuscany ended the city’s autonomy.
Despite their defeat, the citizens of Montalcino did not abandon their “acute ingenuity,” according to accounts from that time. They were “industrious and active… and they rebuilt that which the wars, unwanted by the them, had destroyed.”
And the presence of 1,418 Grand Duchy soldiers was a load they were capable of bearing.
During this period, wine production was expanded. Moscadello and Brunello were sold and shipped as far away as the Royal Court of England.
But the Grand Duchy wanted the best local wines for itself.
“Montalcino is the only township in the entire territory where wine is produced for the fine wine market,” wrote one wise taster.
Olive production was also increased.
“The quality of olive oil is very high, so high as to be unrivalled by other locations.”
To be continued…