It’s the question many a puzzled Italian has asked of us when they hear the name of our import business. We happily reply that it’s because the name is so “musicale” and fun to say! On our first trip to Italy in the summer of 2000 we got lost every day and in central Tuscany all roads lead to Poggibonsi. In fact we regularly visited one round-about outside Siena with all 5 exits directing us to Poggibonsi! The name appeared again and again and we had a great time laughing while trying to pronounce it.
The following year we started our importing business www.poggibonsigifts.com and the name seemed a natural fit. We broke it up into two words to make it a little easier for the American tongue to wrap around (the correct pronunciation is POE-JEE-BONE-SEE, or ZEE depending on the area of Tuscany). We have found that the name is definitely a conversation-starter, however, we do occasionally get calls from misinformed customers looking for “bonsai” trees!
The town’s name is derived from “poggio” which means “hill” in Italian, and the name of the landowner, Bonizzio Segni so it was originally Poggibonizio or “Bonizzio’s hill.” Today Poggibonsi is not the picturesque hill town of antiquity because it endured a great many bombing raids during WWII and was virtually destroyed, consequently most of the architecture is modern. The town has also suffered much abuse from the Italian press who seem to enjoy poking fun at its name and its industrial appearance when compared to other picture-perfect Tuscan hill towns. There is, however, the remains of a wonderful castello above the town, the Castello della Magione which dates from the 11th century and was one of the “Domus Templi” or outposts of the Knights of the Templar. The old centro is also somewhat intact and there is a nice little shopping district.
The modern Poggibonsi is an important industrial center with many furniture manufacturers. The Italian furniture association Centro Sperimentale del Mobile (CSM) has its headquarters in Poggibonsi. It is also home to a well-respected and progressive maternity hospital so many Tuscan babies are welcomed into the world in Poggibonsi. We feel it’s a fitting name for our “Italian baby” as well. Several of our customers have sent us photos of themselves standing beside “Poggibonsi” street signs.
There are many villa rentals available in the area and several nice hill towns to visit in the surrounding countryside, Siena, with its campo and very famous horse race called the “Palio,” is just a few miles away as are San Gimignano, a beautiful town full of towers and tourists, Monteriggioni, a perfectly preserved medieval village, and Colle Val d’Elsa, which is a center for crystal glass production as well as home to the artist who paints our Limone Nero Collection.