'EXVALSE', 'Operation/Project co-financed by the Tuscan Por Fesr 2014-2020'

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The stories of the local ambassadors: Silvia Picchiarelli, Torrita di Siena

Silvia talks about the last years of her life, between her visceral love for Torrita and her passion for China, which brought her to the Land of the Dragon several times

“The Palio dei Somari and the community of Torrita are one and the same; being part of the Contrada (i.e. the City districts) from an early age inextricably marks the people of Torrita. I feel that whatever I do, wherever I go, the bond with the Contrada is a bond that will remain even if I am not physically present in my country of origin".

In Torrita di Siena, children become part of the city districts from an early age, developing a sociability that overcomes years and distance. Silvia Picchiarelli, born and raised in the town of Valdichiana Senese known for the Palio dei Somari (which takes place in March) knows a little something about that. After graduating from high school, Silvia decided to continue her studies elsewhere:

“Partly because driven by great curiosity and the desire to broaden my horizons, partly because I felt restricted by Valdichiana, I left. I enrolled at the Sapienza University of Rome in what was then the Faculty of Oriental Languages ​​and Civilizations and while I was attending univcersity I started traveling to China, a country that has always fascinated me". 

Since her university years and until recently, her trips between Torrita, Rome and the Middle-earth have been frequent. In Beijing, Nanjing and the Italian capital, life is very different from that in Valdichiana, where Silvia returned about three years ago: “Returning home was a real rediscovery. After seeing Chinese metropolises and living in Rome, returning home meant seeing the area with different eyes. Now I understand that my land is a paradise that deserves to be promoted."

For a period, Silvia dedicated herself, with a group of friends, to accompanying tourists on visits to the village of Torrita, an adventure that began by chance but was carried out with great passion and fun because, as she herself says, to help outside people learn about the beauties of your home it is an emotion that cannot be described: “And then, it was first of all an experience of personal enrichment, because I learned many things myself about the culture, history and the social fabric that distinguishes Torrita. Knowing your village in depth is exciting, I realized that many aspects and details of the place where you grow up are often not accurately known because they are taken for granted. It's an experience that I recommend everyone to have: to deepen their knowledge of their village in order to love it more than before, which is a bit like what happened to me" - she continues - "I had moments where I needed to distance myself from Torrita, it was on purpose and necessary, because that's part of evolution and personal growth, but then I always come back because I can't stay away from here."

Silvia confesses that she does not know if she is actually representative of Torrita. Many trips have taken her away from home and her experience in the Proloco (i.e. the association for local tourism development) ended in 2018; since then she no longer took on an active role in the town's activities. We, however, believe that she can be very representative of the reality of Torrita, because she deeply loves this town, its beauties, its community, the many associations that are active every day and its Palio with the Contrade. Silvia is the concrete example of how you can love a territory even if you live far away, how you can have deep roots in Valdichiana even if you leave. But when the opportunity presents itself, it's always joyful to come back and rediscover "home".

Silvia's place of the heart: Ciliano
“It is the perfect place to take long walks surrounded by nature to clear your mind, reflect and relax. And then there is a splendid view of Torrita and Montefollonico".

The place recommended by the local: Madonna delle Nevi Church
“It's objectively spectacular. The first time I entered it was like having a vision. The richness of the colours, the meticulousness of the details, the harmony of the architectural structure, it truly is a small Sistine Chapel".


Silvia Picchiarelli, PhD in Asian and African Civilizations,specialized in Chinese language and culture.