TOURISM IN THE CHIANTI
Some idea for travelling for pleasure on holiday in the Chianti
After visiting Panzano, a medieval town built on the top of a hill which stilI preserves remains of the ancient castle and the beautiful parish church of S. Leolino, follow the road down to the river Pesa. After crossing the bridge take the road on your right for the oratory of the Madonna of Pietracupa. Continuing along the same road you arrive at San Donato in Poggio, a typical medieval 'walled domain' with two gateways and the palace of Malaspina in the main town square. Close to the town you find the beautiful Romanesque parish church of S. Donato.
Taking the road for Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, an ancient post-stage between Florence and Siena, one can visit the parish church of S. Lucia al Borghetto and the Romanesque parish church of San Pietro in Bossolo, altered during the 16th century.
Returning to San Danato in Poggio and taking the first turning on the left for Sambuca, a small town built close to the bridge on the the river Pesa, turn into a small road on your right and arrive at the abbey of Passignano.
This abbey which is now property of the Vallombrosan order, by whom it was founded in the llth century, is flanked by a Romanesque church, rebuilt in the 17th century, and a monastery restructured and altered between the l5th and 16th centuties and again in the last century when it was transformed into a villa.
Continuing past the abbey on the road leading to the hillocks which runs along the hills separating the valleys of the rivers Pesa and Greve, you pass near the Romanescque parish church of S. Pietro a Silano. Continuing along the Quattro Strade we arrive at Mercatale with its beautiful villas. A few kilometers away we find San Casciano Val di Pesa, a town originally owned by the Bishop of Florence and passed later under Florence. It is worth visiting its medieval walls and its churches and in particular the Collegiata, S. Francesco, that of the Misericordia, dating back to the 14th centuty but rebuilt in the 16th century and exhibiting works by Simone Martini, Taddeo Gaddi, Ugolino di Neri, Cigoli and other painters. It is also worth visiting the parish churches of S. Cecilia a Decimo (close to the town and not far from the hospital) and the one of S. Giovanni in Sugana (along the road to Cerbaia).
On returning to Florence along the SS 2, turn towards S. Andrea in Percussina, and visit the villa of the Albergaccio, where Machiavelli lived.
Take the road back to Florence at the ponte degli Scopeti and return to the city passing through Galluzzo and in front of the chartreuse of Val d'Ema. The valley of the river Elsa, a tributary on the left of the Arno, is situated in the centre of Tuscany. Its hilly landscape has been greatly altered by man -especially along the right riverbank- in particular during the Middle Ages when it was subjected to the Republic of Florence. It was first inhabited by the Etruscans and Romans but it was in the Middle Ages that most of its castles -like Casole, Colle, San Gimigano, Poggibonizzo (now Poggibonsi in the province of Siena), Barberino, Certaldo, Castelfiorentino and the enchanting Semifonte were built.
Leaving Florence and going towards Porta Romana-Galluzzo, you reach Barberino VaI d'Elsa situated along the SS 2 (Cassia) or taking the Florence-Siena highway and exiting at Tavarnelle Val di Pesa. From here you reach Barberino Val D'Elsa, a town with an ancient medieval castle which can be best viewed passing along the town's main road, where Palazzo Barberini is also situated , and ending at Porta Romana.
Barberino Val d'Elsa a smiling middle aged village half way between Florence and Siena, along the Roman Cassia Road. In the pictures you can appreciate the Senese door of the village from the outside and from the inside.Continuing along the Cassia towards Siena, we turn, leaving Barberino, for Certaldo, passing through Bagnano and in front of the octagonal-chaped chapel of San Michele, a work by Santi di Tito, built on the site where the ancient town of Semifonte was erected by the Alberti family and destroyed in the 13th century by Florence- once stood. The proportions of the dome, 1:8, resemble those of Brunelleschi's dome of the cathedral of Florence.
Before visiting this chapel turn left and take the road to the parish church of Sant'Appiano, a Romanesque and Proto-Romanesque building, in front of which the remains of an ancient baptistry still can be admired. From there continue for Linari, a suggestive agricultural town which still preserves its medieval origins. From this town you have a beautiful view of the valley and, from a distance, the towers of San Gimignano.
Alternatively visit Vico Val d' Elsa, a town situated on the top of a hill near the river, then take the road down to the SS 429 by which vou reach Certaldo, the native town of Giovanni Boccaccio. This centre built on the top of a hill, castle of the Alberti family, later became the residence of the Florentine vicars. Taking the steep road to the castle you arrive at Porta del Sole which opens into a square and Via Boccaccio where the most imposing buildings are situated. Here one finds the house which is believed to be Boccaccio's birthplace, now seat of the National Centre for Studies on Boccaccio and the imposing Romanesque church of SS. Michele and jacopo. At Lhe end of Lhe street there stands the Vicariate Palace- with its imposing facade adorned with several coats of arms;
close to it one can admire the ex-church of San Tommaso. lt is worth strolling along the other streets of the town and visiting the remains of the ancient city walls and gateways.
Returning to Certaldo Basso and taking the the road for Gambassi Terme, which, after crossing over the river Elsa, climbs up in the beautiful hilly countryside, you arrive at the magnificent parish church of S. Maria a Chianni, a Romanesque church inspired to the style of Pisa, famous for its elevated presbytery.
Gambassi has medievai origins, lt is now a famous centte for glass and a thermal town using iodine-salt watet from Pilo, famous since ancient times. Continuing along the same road towvards montaione it is worth visiting San Vivaldo, a Franciscan convent built at the end of the 15th century in the wood of Boscolazzeroni. Here one can see the so-called 'Sacro monte', a series chapels which reproduce the topography of sacred sites of palestina. The original trinity chapels built at the be- ginning of the 16th centuty have now been reduced to twenty. They exhibit several groups oE polychromous tetracotta statues.
Close to this town you find Castelfalfi, an
ancient castle now transformed into a villa
and national reserve. Leaving Montaione
-with its magnificent view over the valley, its
ruins of the castle, the church of San Bartolomeo
and the Palazzo Pretorio, the road
descends towards the valley of the river Elsa
and leads to Castelfiorentino, a town originally
owned by the Alberti family and then
under the control of Fiorence. The town
stretches along the valley, however on the hill
there sill can be seen ruins of the ancient
medieval fortifications and the parish church
of SS. Ippolito and Biagio dating back to the
Previous Page (To the previuus page) to the next page of the Chianti experience