road leading into Barberino Val díElsa is the ancient Via Cassia, an important Roman road branching off the Via Flaminia near the Milvian Bridge in the immediate vicinity of Rome and passing through Tuscany towards
Inside Barberino Val d'Elsa, the Palazzo Pretorio, decorated with the
coats of arms of the Podestas, and the apse of the Church of San Bartolomeo
are located on the Piazza Barberi. Inside the church
there is a fragment of an Annunciation by the school of Giotto (14 - 15
C) and a bust in bronze by Pietro Tacca.
From Piazza Barberi, a long street, the Via Francesco da Barberino, runs from the right down to the
14 C Porta Senese, and, from the left, towards the Ospedale dei Pellegrini (Pilgrims' Hospice), dating from 1365. Further down the hill and outside the walls,
is the Town Hall where the Council Chamber is decorated with
frescoes by Marco Borgianni, representing the landscape, history and culture of
Barberino and its district.
The entire district is scattered with attractive villages, parish churches and castles,
notably the Parish Church of Sant'Appiano, in stone
(11 C) and brick (12 C), whose attached Antiquarium Museum contains various Etruscan finds and ceramics that come from the many necropoli in the area; the village of Linari, the romantic Castle of Poppiano at Vico díElsa and Petrognano.
The Chapel of San Michele Arcangelo is particularly interesting. Built in 1597 by Santi di Tito, it is a perfect 1:8 scale reproduction of the Cupola or Dome of the Cathedral of Florence. It was constructed on the site of the ancient city of Semifonte, completely razed to the ground by the Florentines in 1202.
Entering the borough through the lower gate, to the left we find a noble palazzo: it is known as the Cardinalís Palazzo and on its entrance door there is a coat of arms with bees, that is, the one of the Barberini, Pope Urban VIIIís powerful family. Inside there is a picturesque courtyard with a round well and a representation court: To the right of the door there is another fourteenth-century palazzo erected on the eastern walls and now turned into a farm. Proceeding along the main road, on the right we encounter the beautiful Palazzo Pretorio, now the provostship of San Bartolomeo, with a renaissance facade adorned with noble coats of arms belonging to the Magistrates up to the XV century.
The thirty-five coats of arms on the facade belong to the most important families of Florence and are mostly made of grey stone. On the opposite side of the square there is a building with a loggia that had the typical function of communal loggias as public area for representation, meetings or even covered markets. The provostship of Barberino underwent remarkable changes in the course of centuries until it was radically transformed in 1910 by the Florentine architect Castellucci, who also changed the orientation of the facade from the main square to the valley. An interesting remain of the old church is the cross, sculpted and enclosed in a sphere of the architrave external to the main door. Inside one can admire a few fragments of frescos dated XIV-XV century, a bust in bronze of the Blessed Davanzato as well as his mortal remains. Near the Florentine gate we find the Pilgrimís Hospice in which there are some frescos and a tombstone. Recently restored, the building now houses the rooms of the Municipal Library. A statue has recently been placed in the square in front of the Town Hall, in commemoration of the fourteenth-century writer Francesco da Barberino to whom our town owes its existence, by the German sculptor Quirin
in Elsa Valley
It stands in a wonderful position right in the midst of the countryside, sprawled along the ridge-like hill that acts as a watershed between the
and Pesa Valleys. The village boasts many unusual and unexpected architectural elements, such as old round arches, as well as fine houses in stone with aristocratic entrances. The pentagonal shaped square is extremely interesting. Marcialla is famous in particular for its climate, thanks to its hilltop position, about 400 metres above sea level, and gives on to splendid views over all the surrounding countryside.
Church of San Lorenzo at Vigliano
Various elements within the church date from the 10th-12th century. The building itself, constructed with rows of stone, is designed on a single nave with an apse. It was enlarged and restored in 1928.
Church of Santa Maria
The original structure of the building dates back to the 12th century, even though various alterations were carried out during the 16th century. The interior contains some very interesting 16th century
The palace, with the characteristics of an urban villa, has an eighteenth century facade with Spanish influences. It contains a beautiful room with a vaulted Gothic ceiling lined with bricks set edgewise.
Villa San Lorenzo at Vigliano
Originally a convent known as San Lorenzo alle Grotte, the villa contains a small chapel.
Semifonte no longer exists today, for it was razed to the ground by the Florentines, Dante's fellow citizens, in 1202. It possessed as many as four gates and a central keep with an octagonal tower. The cupola of San Donnino, the only building standing on the site today, was constructed four centuries later to commemorate those tragic events.
Small town of medieval origin situated in a strategic position on a low hill above the Via rancigena (Road to France) and in the vicinity of the bridge of San Galgano, which goes past Semifonte to ink the Volterra road to Florence. This ancient walled castle and town has retained its original oblong design with two central squares and two parallel streets that meet up near the two gates, which no longer exist today.
The Brancadoro - Majnoni - Guicciardini Chapel
Situated inside the Villa Guicciardini, this small chapel is characteristic for its harmonious geometric forms and for the splendid frescoes by Giovanni da San Giovanni.
Chapel of San Michele
The Chapel, the property of the Guicciardini family, is built with elegantly worked rows of stone in ypical Renaissance style, with a single nave without any decorative elements of note. A coat of arms hangs above the main entrance.
Church of San Bernardo
The church, a Gothic construction of great architectural interest, is situated in Piazza Torrigiani at Vico díElsa.
Church of SantíAndrea
The church dates from the 14th century, but it was reconstructed in 1934 and has been raised in height in recent years. The interior contains valuable works of art.
Fattoria Torrigiani (Farm)
Large farm with a huge farming estate attached, situated on the site of the former Castle of the Florentine Republic, built to defend the Elsa Valley.
The villa, which incorporates the farm of the same name, was reconstructed during the 18th-19th centuries. The small chapel frescoed by Giovanni da San Giovanni in 1621 is of particular interest.
The villa, constructed between 1896 and 1899, is situated on a hill that dominates the Elsa Valley. The building is composed of a single construction surrounded by grounds shaded with great trees.
PONETA - PASTINE- POPPIANO
The tiny country village of Poneta stands on a low hill. It is cut through by the road that branches off from the Via Francigena at the bottom of the valley and climbs up to Barberino Val díElsa. The Church of Santa Maria at Poneta is extremely old and important. San Martino at Pastine is a small and very pretty church that dates from the 12th century; its original Romanesque structure and layout is substantially intact. The Castle of Poppiano, whose origins are extremely old, is situated on a hill overlooking the medieval towers of San Gimignano. Itwas completely rebuilt in Neo-medieval style with battlemented towers.
This is a delightful fortified village of extremely ancient origins and particularly fascinating for its position among the verdant hills of the Elsa Valley. It stands on the road that branches off from the Via Francigena and leads towards Barberino. The little Church of Santa Maria, built on a Romanesque design with a fine eighteenth century bell-tower, stands at the highest point on the site of what was once the ancient Keep. The Castle itself is built around a paved central street that connected up the two gates.
Church of Santo Stefano at Linari
The tiny church, like many other rural churches in the area, is built in brick with typically Gothic decorative elements. The square bell-tower, with its curiously truncated cusp, is also Neo-Gothic in style.
Martino ai Colli
San Martino ai Colli is a group of very old houses built on either side of the Via Cassia road; many are farmhouses but some were originally built to offer various services to wayfarers, as well as pilgrims of course, on their way to Rome. The cemetery chapel now remains as the local place of worship.
Chapel of San Martino ai Colli
Situated inside the cemetery of San Martino, the chapel has taken on historical importance since the discovery of two Etruscan tombs dating from the 8th-7th centuries B.C. beneath its foundations.
Necropolis of San Martino ai Colli
The excavations of 1960 brought to light a necropolis with chamber tombs and funerary furnishings dating from the end of the 6th century.
SAN FILIPPO - PONZANO
Stretched along the hill, the country village of San Filippo is composed of various groups of houses set in a particularly beautiful landscape. The central group is more typically urban as it is cut through by a stone-paved road that comes to an end at the church of San Filippo at Ponzano. This 12th-13th century Romanesque church is built on a rectangular plan with an apse.
MONSANTO - LA PANERETTA
Monsanto is situated in a panoramic position on the ridge of the hill that rises between the river Drove and the stream of Cepperello. Standing on the border between Florence and Siena, it is surrounded by forests, where we can also find the famous wood composed solely of cypress trees.
Palace al Pino
The aristocratic architectural style of the villa includes various structural elements that can be traced back to the 17th-18th centuries.
Castle of Paneretta
The ancient fortress villa of Paneretta was built around an existing
mediaeval tower. The square structure, the central tower and the three corner towers were part of the original building.
In 1696, the castle, plus an important collection of codices, parchments and printed books came into the family of the Marchese Carlo Riccardi Strozzi through his marriage to Cassandra Capponi. This collection forms the nucleus of the Riccardian library in Florence.
Paneretta is now one of the biggest wine producers in the district.
hamlet of Cortine consists of some stone houses, a church and a large, post-Renaissance-style villa.
The original castle of Cortine is mentioned in a document dated 1038 concerning a donation to the
Abbey of San Salvatore allíIsola.
Parts of Cortine are now a tourist accommodation.
and the Church of San Giorgio
is another tiny hamlet, located on the edges of the great Chianti woodlands,
in the form of a cluster of houses built around the Church of San
Giorgio. The surrounding countryside is particularly beautiful thanks to the combination of woods and hills covered in vineyards.