Paganico, famous for its historic “Granocchia Festival”
Paganico is a fraction of the municipality of Civitella Paganico in the province of Grosseto. The town has 961 inhabitants and is located about 20 km from the provincial capital, near the area where the Ombrone river meets the Lanzo stream. Paganico is easily reachable by car as it is located near the state road 223. The inhabitants of this village built in the thirteenth on the initiative of the city-state of Siena are also known by the name of “Granocchiai“. A very unique name that refers to an ancient popular custom of eating frogs. Even today this tradition is carried on and has given rise to one of the most original and folkloristic events of the entire Tuscan Maremma, the famous “Sagra della Granocchia” in which the homonymous Palio is also held.
What to see in Paganico
Paganico is a village of ancient origins, the residential nucleus, as we know it today, was built in the 13th by the will of the municipality of Siena and right between its houses and walls it preserves a series of important monuments, palaces and churches that remember the ancient past of the country.
- Church of San Michele Arcangelo
- Palazzo Pretorio
- Palazzo del Vecchio Ospedale
- Cassero Senese
- Cinta Muraria
Church of San Michele Arcangelo
The church of San Michele Arcangelo is one of the main religious buildings in the hamlet of Paganico. A building built in pure late Romanesque style which probably dates back to the same period as the foundation of the village. In 1933 the structure underwent countless restorations which gave it its current distinctly Baroque style. Inside the apse there is a valuable cycle of fourteenth-century frescoes attributed to the master painter of the Sienese school Bigio di Goro Ghezzi. Furthermore, in the church of San Michele Arcangelo there is also a precious crucifix dating back to the 15th century, which according to local tradition was the subject of disputes between Paganico and the nearby hamlet of Civitella Marittima.
Palazzo Pretorio is an important historical building located along the main street of the town center. The structure dates back to the 14th century and was the seat of the offices of the magistracy of the Sienese republic which dominated this territory for many years. Subsequently the palace also became the residence of the Patrizi marquises and was subsequently closed and used for private use. The building has a completely brick-clad facade with majestic arched openings.
Palazzo del Vecchio Ospedale
Palazzo del Vecchio Ospedale is an ancient complex dating back to the thirteenth century, as its name suggests, the building was used as a medical center at the service of the inhabitants of Paganico. Over the centuries, the hospital function has declined and the building has been used for other purposes, many of which are very far from its original vocation. The building was used as a farm, as a warehouse and as an oil mill. On the façade of the structure the coat of arms of the noble family of the Patrizians is still visible today, for a very long time they were the owners.
The Cassero Senese di Paganico is a fortified complex that dominates the village from above. According to the studies conducted on this monument, a first fortification had already risen around the middle of the 200 with the aim of controlling the communication route along the Ombrone river that led from Siena to Grosseto. Following the devastation Paganico suffered in 1328 by the troops led by Castruccio Castracani, the walls were completed with four forts, one on each side of the town and the Cassero complex was erected to the north-east. The structure of this monument is very particular as it is based on two distinct buildings leaning against each other and both covered in stone and brick. On the main facade of the fortress, just below one of the arched windows, there is a decoration in white travertine with the coat of arms of Siena. The structure is also flanked by an imposing tower, narrow and high in which some loopholes used for the defense of the town are still visible.
The walls of Paganico were the ancient defensive system of the town built by the Sienese towards the middle of the thirteenth century, a second part was added in 1328 following the invasion of the troops of Castracani and the siege of the center of Paganico. A large part of this fortification was destroyed and a completely new one was rebuilt between 1333 and 1335 based on a project by the architect Lando di Pietro. Today the walls of Paganico delimit what is considered the original nucleus of the town. The four towers that once delimited the perimeter of the city are still clearly visible today, watching over it from all sides.
Where sleeping in Paganico
There are many tourist accommodation activities in the Paganico area. One of the most popular and interesting is the farm. Choosing to stay in this type of structure means living an experience in close contact with nature and wanting to approach a relaxed and healthy lifestyle. There are also B & Bs and hotels within the villages that offer the possibility of enjoying the reality of the country at 360 degrees.
Where to eat in Paganico
Maremma is the land of good food and excellent wine and Paganico is no exception. The local gastronomic tradition is present in the menus of Paganico’s restaurants and pizzerias, each of which presents its own version of historic dishes such as acquacotta, stewed wild boar, Maremma-style tortelli and other excellent local delicacies.
Cristall Bar Restaurant (Grosseto-Siena freeway at Lampugnano) Score 4,0
Restaurant with typical Maremma cuisine in which, in addition to having lunch or dinner, you can take advantage of the rich buffets for happy hour, brunch and aperitif. For further information and reservations +39 0564 908714
Casa ristorante da Cinzia (via degli Usi 5, Civitella Paganico) Score 4,5
Typical Maremma cuisine restaurant inside the Cinzia farm in the Paganico countryside. Many of the dishes on the menu are made “at home” as tradition dictates and with local products. The restaurant is open every day for both lunch and dinner. For further information and reservations +39 338 431 2276
Malu‘ (Via Circondario Nord 33, Civitella Paganico) Score 4,5
Malu ‘is a restaurant with typical Tuscan and Maremma cuisine, the specialty of this place is fish cooked in various ways, grilled, baked, stewed and marinated. Inside the menu there is also an alternative of meat dishes Maremma tortelli, pici, wild boar, meats and cheeses. For more information or reservations +39 0564 905761
Pizzeria il Castelluccio (via Dante Alighieri 1, Civitella Paganico) Score 4,0
Family-run pizzeria where you can rediscover the typical flavors of Maremma cuisine. In addition to the classic pizzas on the menu there are traditional dishes made with 0 km products. The Pizzeria The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner and after midnight. For more information or reservations +39 0564 905061
Al Parco (via Arrigo VII 1, Civitella Paganico) Score 5,0
Al Parco is a restaurant and pizzeria located in the center of Paganico that offers excellent dishes cooked local products in a familiar and welcoming environment. For further information and reservations +39 331 123 2708
History of Paganico
Paganico has a very rich and well documented history. The town was created from scratch and this reaffirms Sienanel’s interest in owning an outpost in this specific area of the Maremma. The village was initially also known by the name Castelfranco and indicated the total absence of taxes and levies for those who decided to live in Paganico. Plots of land were also distributed to encourage demographic development to build houses. In 1295 the works for the construction of the walls began and men from all the neighboring municipalities were hired to finish the construction of the church. Paganico, in reality must have already been a very active village, given that since 1273, there were agreements that regulated the holding of a weekly market and a fair set for September and dedicated to Sant’Angelo, an anniversary, celebrated with a feast that for three consecutive days it attracted merchants from nearby lands and from the city of Siena itself. This tradition still survives today in the village festival which is organized on the day dedicated to San Michele Arcangelo. The fortification was completed in 1335 with an exceptional cost as evidence of how much Siena held to the birth of this village. Its objective was to control the Maremma and to access the coast, in particular the port of Talamone which was already owned by the republic that had bought it in 1303 from the abbey of San Salvatore on Monte Amiata. After the fall of Siena in 1555 Paganico was put to sword and fire by the imperials. The town ended up being semi-destroyed and its inhabitants were brutally slaughtered. Subsequently this territory was annexed to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany which in 1602 made it a marquisate for Prince Antonio dei Medici.