Edited by Mauro Bucci

The town councillors used to meet in an old building in the town of Rocca, which goes back to the 13th century if not before. They met in a room on the first floor under the gaze of frescoed Madonna, who, having been removed from her original wall, now adorns the old town hall of Castiglione in Piazza Vecchietta.

Another feature always found in town halls, especially in Tuscany, is the loggia. The loggia of Rocca is first mentioned in 1571, in a public notice vigorously urging to respect the decorum of the Loggia and its surroundings.

It was called the chapel loggia because ten years previously, in 1561, it had been built next to a chapel dedicated to the Madonna. The chapel stood until 1980 or thereabouts, when it was turned into a studio apartment, and now houses the Orcia Consortium of Wine. The mention of prisons is useful, because it tells us that there were prisons below the town hall. All public events took place on the loggia. There were even the blocks to which prisoners were tied and exposed to public humiliation.

These blocks, forming a pillory, are described in a document of 1752, when they were moved to Montalcino. Four oxen were needed to transport them there. It was probably the best instrument of torture in the area, featured nine holes, which meant that it could contain three men at any one time.

If this surprises us, we must remember that these were violent times, more so than today, and crimes much more frequent. This may have been due to the difficulties in punishing culprits, who often got away by escaping to the nearby states or domains, and this forced the citizens to carry out justice on their own.

For example, at the end of the 16th century, three bandits from Rocca were condemned to death for murder. They were Lamone of Gio. Maria bricklayer, Giobatta of Cecho Biondi and Domenico of Meco of Cittino. We can only hope that they escaped to the Papal State, or chose the alternative punishment, usual at the time, of serving two years on board the galleys of Porto Ercole, which were involved in continuous battles against the incursions of infidels and Saracens. The times being what they were.

In times of war, if a soldier - and remember that they were recruited from among the poor - returned home before being demobbed then he had to be killed and his pockets emptied, while if a gentleman did, he was arrested and treated with courtesy.

Along the same lines, the law forbad everyone “except for gentlemen” to play at dice or cards. We know when the loggia was closed in, which was in 1835. Now it houses the ARCI Circle, but we can still see the trusses that held up the roof, and on the outside, the brick and stone columns that supported it.