San Gusmè is a small walled village located a few kilometers from Castelnuovo Berardenga. Set on top of a hill, the town overlooks the countryside where you can see Siena the profile of the Torre del Mangia and the Duomo.
The name derives from a mispronunciation of Saint Cosmas to whom the nearby parish church of Campi is dedicated. The village was founded in the late 14th century and has always been under the influence of Siena and was included in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 16th century when Siena itself fell under its control.
From the original structure, a few parts of the defensive walls remain even if some have been incorporated into nearby buildings and two doors into the town. The Sienese entrance still has the "Balzana" on it, Siena's coat of arms, made of local stones. In the village, we recommend a visit to the Church of Saint Cosmas and Damian, the village's patrons, and the Church of Santissima Annunziata with its characteristic bell tower.
San Gusmè is a small village, with no museums or valuable monuments, a few shops, two restaurants and the post office. Its charm is its picturesque tranquility, where time seems to have stopped. For these reasons, it is worth visiting. On your way around Chianti, we recommend you stop here and relax over a coffee, walk around the town and then head on to your next destination.
The Luca Cava
Next to the main door into San Gusmè is an interesting terracotta statuette depicting a squatting man doing his business. On the commemorative plate next to the statue, you'll find the following inscription: "King, emperor, pope, philosopher, farmer and worker: a man doing his daily functions. Do not laugh, think only of yourself."
The history of this statue is now tied to legend, which says that in the late 19th century the innkeeper in San Gusmè, tired of cleaning the muck of his impolite customers, built a small outhouse with a sign claiming it as the "Public Toilet". However, most of his customers were illiterate so they didn't use it. The innkeeper then had the small statuette made showing explicitly what the outhouse was to be used for and finally met with success. The statuette was then named "Luca Cava", a play on Italian words which are very difficult to translate and in transition lose their meaning ;).
Every year on the first two weekends of September, San Gusmè celebrates this funny statuette with the Luca Festival. The festival offers live music, good food and hand-crafted products as well as wine tastings so if you're nearby during this time, stop by for a relaxing evening.