The Milk Spring
Some people may not know that the popular beliefs and traditions of many countries do not come from popular habits but they are the result of ancient pagan rituals.
An example of this is represented by the beliefs about water, a sacred element as it was the source and origin of every life form, the symbol of rebirth and fertility, a magic and therapeutic element. In such a way, the popular imaginary gave water, together with another life source, mother’s milk, the power to convey to some springs the ability to make milk gush from them. As it can be easily imagined, drinking from these springs would have had miraculous effects: an increase in the milk production for the women who were breast-feeding, the healing from various illnesses and so on.
These springs are called milk fountains, or in Italian “Fonte del Latte”, “Fonte Téttera”, “Fonte Lattaia” or just “Pocce Lattaie”. The term “Poccia Lattaia” refers both to the stalactite shape, which vaguely resembles a breast, and to the milky liquid (rich of calcium carbonate that gives it that colour) that slides down from it and falls onto the cave floor which gets slowly eroded and eventually forms a cavity.
Montepulciano too, in a place called Pianoia, has its Pocce Lattaie spring, situated in a cavern: here, many votive presents have been found and they are thought to belong to those who, at least until the sixties, used to go there to drink the water for its believed power to help healing some diseases and help during the breast-feeding period too.
Today no one goes to the Pocce Lattaie cavern believing in its miraculous powers anymore, but this place is still important for Montepulciano’s community but it is the spark for tales and interesting stories, as well as being the destination for people who like to trek.