CONTRADA OF THE TORTOISE - FROM THE PAST

The Barberesco's hat

The Tortoise was formed by the union of two military companies: Porta all’Arco, based in town, and Sant’Agata, based in the periphery. Its territory includes a lengthy stretch of the old thirteenth-century city walls. The Tortoise produced some highly original devices on the float it built in 1717, in honor of Siena’s lady governor, Violante of Bavaria: high up,an eagle swooped down to earth from Olympus carrying a tortoise in its claws; the gods had used the tortoise’s back as their gameboard in a chess match, a diversion indeed worthy of the gods, which they had finally decided to share with humankind. The Tortoise’s sorties were not always so courtly. At time the Contrada’s mood turned to roguish or farcical displays, as on the occasion of the 2 July 1711 Palio. Having drawn by lot a bad horse, the Tortoise members appeared in Piazza del Campo with a cart fashioned as a hospital bed , in which lay the poor nag, attended by a physician-farrier and a donkey-doctor. Alessandro Sozzini, the 16th-century author of "Raccolta di burle, facetie, motti e buffonerie" (A collections of Antics, Capers and Witticism); hit the nail on the head when he noted that the two famous pranksters of Siena, Tremoto and Streghino, were members of the Tortoise!
The new Fonte Gaia in Piazza del Campo was created by Tito Sarrocchi an artist born in Tortoise’s Contrada.

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