The “borgo” of Roncolla
chosen by director Luchino Visconti for his movie
Driving on the regional road (Strada Regionale) 68 from Volterra to San Gimignano, one’ll find the small and quaint “borgo” of Roncolla. Its current name might derive from the ancient “Runeum”, but the “borgo” was previously called “Roncunula”. The town still follows its original structure, with a small center surrounded by walls oriented from west to east, with a villa on the western side. The villa dates back to the 17th century and now belongs to the Inghirami family. The town, located at the foot of Monte Ridolfo, has always been fairly populated.
Roncolla was assigned to Giovan Battista Guarnacci on June 15th, 1654 through a farming contract that was in use in the Middle Ages, together with Poggio S. Martino (another name for Monte Ridolfo). The project for the town was then presented to the Grand Duke. The village had 150 inhabitants in 1551, 200 in 1745 and 351 in 1833. We don’t know exactly when the “borgo” was first built, but it was cited as a villa under the jurisdiction of Monte Voltraio in 1236.
The houses were built along the road that gives access to the town, whereas the church and the Inghirami-Campani villa were located at the very end of it. The houses are set on two floors: the ground floor is used for storage and as a stable, and the first ground is used as a living space, with its brickwork (stones and bricks) and buttresses and barbicans.
The villa served as a background for the TV miniseries “Ritratto di Donna velata” and Luchino Visconti’s movie “Vaghe Stelle dell’Orsa” (“Sandra” in the USA and “Of a Thousand Delights” in the UK). The building has a stunning facade decorated with brickwork, a garden with statues, beautiful doors and an elegant gate closing the “borgo”.
It first belonged to Mario Guarnacci in the 1700s, then to the Sermolli family and then to Luigi Campani in the 1800s, who renovated it in an ”eclectic style”, as the engineer Campani himself described it.
The church is dedicated to S. Martino and dates back to the 17th-18th century. It is a one-nave church with a square floor plan, a central door with a coat of arms and a bricked bell tower.
The “Fattoria”, literally the farm, became Luigi Campani’s property in 1822, and it included an area of 460 hectares and 15 buildings (“poderi”) by 1940. The last in the Campani family, Dina Campani, married Ciro Inghirami and left the villa and the farming business to Lodovico Inghirami and his heirs.