The Horti Leonini are a public garden located in the ancient bastions of San Quirico d'Orcia (province of Siena).
Fortunes around 1581 on a plot that Francesco I de ' Medici had donated to Diomede Leoni, are named by their owner. The Horti have maintained up to now the original structure, creating a well preserved example of classic Italian-style garden and a model of accommodation in the Park resumed in later centuries.
The terrain has influenced the distribution of the garden that is divided into two zones, the lower one more artificial, and the upper most natural. The lower area, which is accessed via a small brick courtyard, is enclosed by walls and by Oaks pruned. This area, composed of triangular flower beds bordered by a double box hedge, travels to the Center the statue of Cosimo III de ' Medici, sculpted by Bartolomeo Mazzuoli (1688).
The composition in a radial pattern is moved further from different heights which are pruned boxwood bands that surround each flower bed. The long Avenue, which cuts symmetrically the formal garden, leads to a staircase that connects it to a grassy.
The Diomede Leoni realizes a garden without villa and therefore not as a place of delight reserved for few, as they used to do in the Renaissance, but rather, as stated in a famous letter to Grand Duke Ferdinand de ' Medici gardens "that come back to some comforts yet delli wayfarers ...". Thus, a singular case of gardens created, next to the ancient Church of Santa Maria Assunta, formerly known as Santa Maria ad hortos, and with the hospital front staircase, for the hospitality of the pilgrims.
San Quirico was since 990, as attested by the travelogue of the Archbishop of Canterbury Sigeric, a "statio" momentous della Francigena, because shortly thereafter the road entered the Papal Dominion of the Papal States. Many pilgrims in San Quirico did stop, during their travels to the capital of Christianity. Remains, in the collegiate church, the Tomb that holds the remains of Henry count of Nassau who here killed returning from the Jubilee of 1450, reflecting the great movement toward the center of Christendom. Very strong, even today, the daily presence of pilgrims stopping in San Quirico.
Highly scenic design of the parterre of the Horti Leonini was by scholars interpreted as a cross of Malta, also known as the cross of Saint John.
The eight-pointed cross is based on crosses used since the first crusade.
According to St. Matthew eight tips can symbolize the Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven
Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God
Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven
or some important Christian virtues:
Glory and honor
Contempt for death
Solidarity with the poor and the sick
Respect for the Church
Therefore, the Renaissance garden of Lions can be thought of as a place that has a his Holiness conveyed by symbolism of geometrical and green at the same time he completed and absolves a merciful task of welcoming and refreshment to weary pilgrims of their journey.
Perhaps it is also the reason why for many years, until recently, there was held the largest and the oldest religious party in the country, dedicated to our Lady of Vitaleta, of which the people man from San Quirico is traditionally very devoted. The work of Andrea della Robbia is located at the Church of St. Francis, facing the same square surrounded by the Horti Leonini.
The square, the site of a medieval tower was destroyed during the second world war, is placed in the middle of a forest of oak trees crossed by winding paths. The Avenue bordering the town along the lower garden and the lower part of the forest, leads to another 16th century entrance to a small and precious area, commonly called the Rose Garden, situated in the eastern corner of the walls and constituted precisely by wealthy rose bushes.
Among the sculptures in the Park, characterized by symbolic connotations, you notice two lion heads placed on the entrance portals, and the head of Janus which is located on the border between the wild and the formal garden.
The first hint is the name that the power of the owner, while the head of Janus highlights the diversity of the two sites of which marks the limit.
Some inscriptions located in the Park are of classic taste and celebrate the beauty of otium and country life. Among the outbuildings present include a small house adjacent to the walls and a rustic building located in the upper part.
Gli Orti Lalitha, who are from 1975 to the municipality of San Quirico d'Orcia, are regularly open to the public every day. The plant has remained unchanged till today through a series of conservation interventions made by the municipalities, under the direction of Soprintendenza per i Beni Ambientali e Architettonici for the provinces of Siena and Grosseto.