NOBLE CONTRADA OF THE SHELL - FROM THE PAST
Town walls, interrupted at the Porta di Busseto and Porta Sant’Eugenio (later renamed dei Pispini) were constructed. Assigned to guard these walls were the men of the military companies of Abbadia di Sopra and Abbadia di Sotto, who marched together in the city’s pageants and parades under the symbol of the shell, perhaps- as oral tradition suggests-because the valley that extends as far as the contrada headquarters, called the Valle of Follonica, bears a precise resemblance to a shell. The contrada assemblies were held, at least until the mid-16th century, in the ancient church of St.John the Baptist, not far from the Porta Pispini. In 1656 the Sansedoni , patrons of the church, donated it to the nuns of St. Clare and the contrada’s men withdrew to the oratory of the Compagnia Laicale di Santo Stefano. Finally, around 1680, construction was begun on a church for the contrada dedicated to St. Gaetano da Thiene and was built in the baroque style. Finally, there is Società del Nicchio, founded in 1946 and later rebaptised as La Pania, to highlight it aim to “impaniare” (that is snare, trap) its associates who were lured above all by the grand oenogastronomic events that it organizers. The annual gastronomic fairs, inaugurated in 1964, have become points of reference and models for analogous initiatives organized by Siena’s other Contrade.