The “Bottini” are a network of underground aqueducts that still supply the historical fountains of the city nowadays: a historical and engineering patrimony that the Municipality of Siena wanted to enhance and promote, respecting its fragility.
The term “buctinus”, probably from the barrel vault (volta a “botte”), appears for the first time in a 1226 document and gives origin to these subterranean aqueducts.
Siena, because of its hilltop location and the lack of major rivers, has always had to resort to alternative choices for the water supply, making this ingenious system of tunnels, which today can be covered by foot.
The entire ancient water supply system, which, between main branches and derivations, stretches for about 25 kilometers, represents a key element of the history and culture of the city: until 1914 the bottini and its fountains were the only water resource of the city.
There are two main branches of the bottini: the oldest one, the Bottino Maestro di Fontebranda, which is very deep and brings water to the Fonte di Fontebranda from Fontebecci, and the Bottino Maestro di Fonte Gaia, built around 1300, which supplies the fountain of Piazza del Campo, Fonte Gaia and with the overflow even other smaller fountains.
For the sole purpose of protecting, recovering and anyway promote and spread the knowledge of these places - with the respect and attention that they deserve – the visit is allowed for small groups in some sections of the Bottini, accompanied by the volunteers of the Associazione La Diana: the branch of Fonte Nuova and a segment of the main branch of Fonte Gaia.
Really interesting is also the Water Museum.