The Ptolemies were an ancient and illustrious Sienese family, which a complacent genealogy wanted to link to the homonymous dynasty of the sovereigns of ancient Egypt, some exponents of which probably came to Tuscany during the reign of Charlemagne.
The origins of the family can be traced back to the Ptolemaic dynasty, descendant of the Dardanidae and of the Macedonian royal family of the Argeadi, which later became the Lagides. The mythizing of their ancestry was quite common to many noble prosapias.
Tradition has it that, from the union of Gaius Julius Caesar with Cleopatra VII Queen of Egypt, Ptolemy XV was born, called Cesarione, the only son of the condottiere, presumed heir to the Roman imperial throne. After the death of Caesar, the boy was brought before the Roman Senate by Marco Antonio, a faithful general, who introduced him as a direct successor to the Gens Iulia (prestigious lineage authoritative of the foundation of Rome, entitled to the imperial throne). The Senate, however, not recognizing the union of Caesar with Queen Cleopatra, pointed to Octavianus, Caesar's nephew and adopted son, as a legitimate pretender. Octavian, then, for fear of a Caesarion's revenge in adulthood, had him sentenced to death. A descendant of the royals of Egypt would therefore have landed on the peninsula and would have continued the lineage.
The first belonging to the progeny of which we have documented news is Baldistricca Tolomei in 1121. In the twelfth century a descendant of this man, who lived at the time of Pope Gregory I, called Baroni Alemanni, then inaugurated in Siena the house of the Tolomeis.
The Ptolemies were therefore a very rich merchant family, residing in Siena, where they erected the historic palace of the same name since 1205. Following the tormented political events of the Republic of Siena, in which the dynasty was very active, some representatives of the Ptolemies were exiled from the city, and this favored the birth of certain collateral lines in other regions. They were owners of numerous fiefdoms in Tuscany.
The main branch moved to Rome at the behest of Innocent VI: Raimondo Tolomei in 1358 was placed at the head of the Senate. The Ptolemies fixed their Roman residence in the Trastevere district, where you can still admire the ancient palace, with a tower, located in Via dell'Arco dei Tolomei, now home to the Italian "Pitigliani" Jewish Center.
In 1503 they bought the fief of Patrica from the Colonna, with the territories of the free municipalities of Collepardo, Guarcino, Vico nel Lazio, up to the heights of Anticoli di Campagna; the Collepardo castle was built, with a 1606 portal, commissioned by Claudio Tolomei, and the Vico palace in Lazio.
They occupied administrative, jurisdictional and clerical duties in their possessions. to remember Count Massimino Tolomei, notary in Guarcino. They also belonged Pia de 'Tolomei, mentioned by Dante in Canto V del Purgatorio, and the writer Claudio Tolomei.
In the fourteenth century two branches of the Sienese scholarship flourished in Perugia up to the eighteenth century: the Ptolemies of Stella and the Ptolemies of Porta Santa Susanna: these included Scipione Tolomei (1553-1630), political writer and court secretary of the Corgna family, marquises of Castiglione del Lago.
In Ferrara, in the fourteenth century, the line of the Ptolemies of the Assassin lived: Stella, daughter of Giovanni and lover of Niccolò III d'Este, was the mother of Ugo and of the Marquises Leonello and Borso.
Today the branches of: Rome, Collepardo, Florence, Pistoia survive; the latter became extinct with the death of Countess Sofia Manni, widow of Count Filippo Tolomei. A noble sepulcher of the Sienese Ptolemies is located in the cloister of the Basilica of San Francesco, where the eighteen citizens slaughtered by the Salimbeni antagonists were also buried.