The Colombini were one of Siena’s noble families, active in the Sienese government since the beginning of the 1000. The first member to be quoted in the chronicles was Tignoso Colombino, after him his children were named Colombini and since then the family’s name remained. His residence was a castle in the village of Uopini, just outside Siena. The same castle became an hospital in the Middle Ages and it is still in existence.
In 1200 the family was allowed to have a Coat of Arms with the four little doves painted on a blue field and separated by a golden cross. With the years the cross disappeared, maybe because of a Crusade or, simply, to signify the compassionate attitude of the family.
In the XIV Century the family changed from being wool merchants into banking, with the head quarters in Siena and various branches in Italy and in Marseille. Thanks to the favor of the Duke of Calabria Alfonso the Republic of Siena donated to the Colombini the Castles of Monte Benichi and Topina.
Later they obtained a share of the Castle of San Giovanni d’Asso and the Castle of Poggio alle Mura. The year was 1352 and this is a very important date because it establishes whrn the Colombini arrived in Montalcino for the first time. Through the many troubled events of these times we managed to remain and we are still here.
In the XIV century also occurred the case of Giovanni Colombini – the name Giovanni is very frequent in the family – a member of the Sienese government and a very healthy banker. He was enlightened by a mystical call, decided to become a monk, donating all his materialistic possession to the Church. Even his wife Biagia and children were convinced to take the votes and live happily in poverty. What happened to the many mistresses and illegitimate children is unknown.
The Church beatified Giovanni after his death, giving also a recognition to the monastic order of the Gesuati – which lasted until 1952 – but the rest of the family was outraged by the disappearance of a great part of the health. Caterina Colombini, a cousin of Giovanni, became Beata as well, after founding the female monastic order of the Gesuate.
Not all the Colombini were saint, others were womanizers and hedonists, like Tommaso Colombini, a mediocre poet member of the early Renaissance group of literates moving around Cecco Angiolieri. Another weird member at the end of the XVI century was Stefano, who in a fight blinded the Governor of Montalcino and had to run away.
The donations of the ancestors caused decades of strictness and austerity to the family, until mid XVI century, when they decided to change politically and support the Florentines. A very wise choice because Cosimo dei Medici, having won over Siena, restored their fortunes and properties. Cosimo, Lucrezio, Ascanio and Giovanni Colombini were among the one hundred Sienese citizens chosen to run the government of the city, their properties expanded to the Mount Amiata where some of the members settled.
Cosimo, Lucrezio, Ascanio e Giovanni Colombini fecero parte dei cento gentiluomini senesi incaricati dal governo della città sotto i fiorentini, e le proprietà si estesero di nuovo verso l’Amiata dove si insediarono vari rami della famiglia.In 1560 Cosimo Colombini became Podestà (Mayor) of Montalcino, the same position to be taken 470 years later by Giovanni Colombini. Cosimo was another daredevil, very jealous of his wife Girolama Salvani, because of that or maybe for the innocent game of a snowball thrown casually, he killed Alessandro Piccolomini, the nephew of the powerful Pope.
Fortunately Cosimo was liked by the Grand Duke of Tuscany who pardoned him, saving him from a death sentence. Many other Colombini served the Grand Duke as soldiers and sailors, like Antonio, Francesco, Stefano and Torquato, tha latter fought the Turks in the battle of Lepanto. Others were famous jurists, above all Leonardo and Panfilo.. Giulio Cesare Colombini was a literate who collected and published the letters of Beato Giovanni. The family split in different branches, all of them extinct a part of ours, established in Lucca in the XVIII century. In 1780 the family obtained the title of Earl by Maria Teresa Cybo d’Este, Duchess of Massa and princess of Modena.
At the beginning o the XiX century the family lived in Carmignano near Lucca. They continued to maintain a strong relationship with Siena. For this reason Paolo Colombini, a law scholar, decided to become a Notary. He followed the Bishop of Lucca who moved to Montalcino, in order to manage also his minor agricultural properties located there. It was a lucky choice, starting a new chapter of the family history, which lasts till today. His son, Pio Colombini, was an Academic, a genial Professor in Medical Science who discovered a therapy to cure the syphilis. Despite his medical profession he wrote on his passport “landowner” and he produced the first bottles of Brunello. He married Elina Padelletti, from an ancient and noble family of Montalcino, who increased the possession with the villa Podernovi, where are located today the cellar and laboratories.
Their son Giovanni Colombini, born in 1906, was an innovator, a pioneer of the modern viticulture. The opening of the first Italian public wine shop in the Fortress of Montalcino, in 1936, was his idea. The same Fortress was restored during his years as Mayor of the city.
He was the one that started the first mail-order selling of Tuscan wines and also the first sales overseas in many markets. He was also innovative in the way of selling hundreds of thousands of bottles for a very high price, changing the future of a wine, from a restricted élite of consumers to a much wider category.
The opening of the Fattoria dei Barbi cellar to the visitors in the Fifties is one of the first step to the Wine Tourism.
After the death of Giovanni Colombini in 1976, the Fattoria dei Barbi has been managed first by his daughter Francesca and afterwards by his nephew Stefano. They both developed and expanded the property, making it what is possible to see today.