If you are in Tuscany on the third weekend in June, join in the merriment and festivities with the townsfolk as they commemorate Frederick I Barbarossa’s historic visit to San Quirico d’Orcia before being named Holy Roman Emperor in 1155. The four quarters of Borgo, Canneti, Castello and Prato challenge each other to flag and archery competitions on the grounds of the Leonini Gardens in honour of the Emperor after a re-enactment of the meeting between Barbarossa and the Papal envoy and historical parade.
Feast on traditional local dishes and drink up Tuscan wine in the taverns created by the four quarters. After the day’s events, the town takes you back in time to a medieval victory celebration put on by the winning quarters.
The Borgo quarter is to the southeast from the main square. The name comes from the Italian word, borgo, meaning small village, which joined the castle when its walls were widened. Its black flag recalls the darkness of the lodgings and shelters along the Via Francigena.
Canneti is the western part of the town which continues outside the walls and faces the main square through Porta Nuova. In the Middle Ages, a thick canebrake, canneti, covered this area. Its blue colour echoes the water in which the thicket of reeds grew.
Castello takes up the north part of the historical centre of town. The name comes from the castle that once stood on this little hill. Its red colour evokes the colour of the walls and rooftops.
Prato is the southwest corner town outside the walls towards the Castello di Vignoni. The name derives from the meadows, prato, that once covered this area and also their colour, green.