Abbadia San Salvatore

Abbey of Sant'Antimo

Albarese

Acquapendente


anghiari

Archipelago Toscano


Arcidosso


Arezzo


Asciano


Badia di Coltibuono


Bagni San Filippo

Bagno Vignoni

Barberino Val d'Elsa

Beaches

Bolsena Lake


Bomarzo

Brunello di Montalcino

Buenconvento

Campagnatico


Capalbio


Castel del Piano


Castelfiorentino

Castell'Azarra

Castellina in Chianti


Castelmuzio


Castelnuovo Bererdenga


Castiglioncello Bandini


Castiglione della Pescaia


Castiglione d'Orcia


Castiglion Fiorentino


Celleno


Certaldo


Chinaciano Terme


Chianti


Chiusi


Cinigiano


Città di Castello

CivitÀ di Bagnoregio


Colle Val d'Elsa


Cortona


Crete Senesi


Diaccia Botrona

Isola d'Elba

Firenze


Follonica


Gaiole in Chianti


Gavorrano

Gerfalco


Greve in Chianti


Grosseto


Lago Trasimeno


La Foce


Manciano


Maremma


Massa Marittima


Montagnola Senese


Montalcino


Monte Amiata


Monte Argentario

montecalvello

Montefalco


Montemassi


Montemerano


Monte Oliveto Maggiore


Montepulciano


Monteriggioni


Monticchiello


Monticiano


Orbetello


Orvieto


Paganico


Parco Naturale della Maremma


Perugia


Piancastagnaio


Pienza


Pisa


Pitigliano

Prato

Radda in Chianti


Roccalbegna


Roccastrada


San Bruzio


San Casciano dei Bagni


San Galgano


San Gimignano


San Giovanni d'Asso


San Quirico d'Orcia


Sansepolcro


Santa Fiora


Sant'Antimo


Sarteano


Saturnia


Scansano


Scarlino


Seggiano


Siena


Sinalunga


Sorano


Sovana


Sovicille

Talamone

Tarquinia


Tavernelle Val di Pesa


Torrita di Siena


Trequanda


Tuscania


Umbria


Val d'Elsa


Val di Merse


Val d'Orcia


Valle d'Ombrone


Vetulonia


Viterbo

Volterra




 
Walking in Tuscany
             
 
 

Colle Val d'Elsa

 

album Surroundings
       
   

Colle di Val d'Elsa or Colle Val d'Elsa


 
   
   

Locally referred to as Colle, Colle di Val d'Elsa is situated above the valley of the river Elsa, the Val d'Elsa which hosts towns like San Gimignano, Certaldo, Colle Val d'Elsa, Casole d'Elsa, Monteriggioni, Barberino Val d'Elsa and Poggibonsi.

As its name shows this village is situated on the Elsa River which flows straight to the bigger Arno River. Along the Elsa banks there are many villages, as Poggibonsi and Certaldo, but Colle has a special relationship with this river. Even in the mediaeval period, the town covered a large area including Il Piano which extended along the route of the original gore. The gore are the artificial water channels supplied by water from the river Elsa. The town developed along the river from the 11th century onwards, building an artificial canal to power various industrial activities, such as wheat mills and paper factories. In this sense, the gore were a crucial factor in the town's economy, fostering the development of industrial enterprises.

Due to its strategic position along the way of Via Francigena, the medieval pilgrimage and trading route from Central Europe to Rome, Colle di Val d'Elsa developed in three different areas, each of them with its idiosyncratic architecture and art: Il Borgo di Santa Caterina, Il Castello di Piticciano and Il Piano.
Borgo di Santa Caterina and Castello di Piticciano are the older of the three and were inhabited by the ruling families. They are situated on the same east-west ridge and, separated by a large saddle, they dominate the valley floor where the third borgo, Il Piano (the plain), is located. Il Piano now has a modern urban structure built specially to accommodate manufacturing activities.

The area of Colle, which was subject to the authority of Volterra, was an important crossroads to and from central and northern Etruria, a fact attested to by some very important finds, especially in the vicinity of two large necropolises: the Le Ville necropolis and the Dometaia necropolis.

The oldest part of Colle di Val d'Elsa is the colle alta, the higher part, with a well preserved medieval center. The attractive old town of Colle di Val d'Elsa has two important provincial museums, the Museum of Civic and Religious Art and the Archaeological Museum, as well as quite a good Museum of Lead-Crystal Glass.
In the 17 C, the Usimbardi family introduced glass production into Colle di Val d'Elsa. The paper industry was replaced by the new iron and glass industries. The production of glass evolved into lead-glass crystal production and this became the principal industrial activity of Colle di Val d'Elsa, which became known as the Bohemia of Italy in the 19 C. Today Colle di Val d'Elsa produces 15% of the world's crystal.

Colle Val d’Elsa is the birthplace of the celebrated architect and sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio who was born in 1245 and died in Florence in 1310.

The Porta Nuova or New Gate opens onto Via Gracco del Secco, the main road in the old borgo, which is bordered by large residential palazzi. Their yellow plaster facades are in the late 18 C style and were added by Pietro Leopoldo di Toscana. Opposite one another are the hospital of San Lorenzo and the San Pietro conservatoire, with its adjacent church. Both of these buildings were built by the powerful Usimbardi family, to which the first Bishop of Colle di Val d'Elsa belonged.

In mediaeval times, to pilgrims travelling along the road from Volterra to Colle di Val d'Elsa, the sight of the majestic and impressive Porta Nuova, with its large, round bastions, must certainly have been striking in its monumentality, as an emblem of the town’s beauty and importance. The monument represented the central role played by Colle di Val d'Elsa in the war between Florence, with its dependent territories, and the city of Sienna.

The gate on the Volterra road was built on the site of the outdated Porta Selva, which was destroyed by troops allied to the Sienese during the siege of 1479.
At the time, the bastions and the battlements were already present, while the gateway as it appears today, giving access to the Borgo di Santa Caterina, was built together with the new outer walls by the Florentine architects Cecca, Francione and Giuliano da San Gallo.
Passing through the gateway, one finds oneself in Via Gracco del Secco, the main road in the old borgo, which is bordered by large residential palazzi and local eateries.
Beneath their facades of yellow plaster, in the late 18th century style, which were added by Pietro Leopoldo di Toscana, one finds, standing opposite each other, the former hospital of San Lorenzo and the former San Pietro conservatoire, with its adjacent church. Both these buildings were built by the powerful Usimbardi family, to which the first Bishop of Colle di Val d'Elsa belonged.

The hospital of San Lorenzo, built in 1635, bears clear signs of Leopoldo’s extension, and was carried out by Bernardino Fantastici, whereas the San Pietro conservatoire, which was completed in 1606 to plans by Giorgio Vasari the Younger, was originally home to lay sisters of the Augustinian order, and was later a home for young girls. It is now the Civic and Diocese Museum of Religious Art. One of the Museum’s masterpieces is the Maestà by the Badia a Isola Master, painted in the style of Duccio. The collection also boasts a rare eucharistic set dating to the 6 C and a wooden crucifix by Marco Romano, as well as a large group of works of art ranging from the mediaeval period to the 20 C.

 

 

The Borgo of Santa Caterina is the location of the former homes of numerous merchants dating back to the 13 C and 16 C, in which one can still detect the original shape of the towers, and from Piazza Baios one can admire the towered structures of the medieval buildings in Via dell'Amore and Via del Refe Nero. The only surviving part of the old Porta Vecchia (demolished in 1764) is the imposing Renaissance bastion which was used as a water cistern, and from which the network of the town’s water conduits used to lead, supplying fresh water to the Mercatalis Fountain, situated in Piazza Santa Caterina.

Continuing down the road, one comes to the 15 C Church of Santa Caterina d'Alessandria, adjacent to which are the Oratorio dei Filippini and the Oratorio della Compagnia dalle Croce, where can still find the early 16 C terracotta group showing the Lament Over the Body of Christ, attributed to Zaccaria Zacchi.

The square opposite the house identified as that of the humanist and Lutheran theologian Aonio Paleario, who was burnt at the stake in 1570 in Rome, offers a welcome spot where one can relax in the shade of the trees and admire the attractive countryside of the Tuscan hills, and a fine view of the Church of San Francesco, one of the first sites of the Franciscan Order in Tuscany (1229).
The Church of San Francesco, which stands alone atop the hill opposite the Castello district, is reached by crossing a 14 C arched bridge, which was built to join the monastery to the Borgo of Santa Caterina. In the church, which is late Romanesque, hidden beneath 17 C overpainting and stucco-work, one can see paintings spanning the period from the 13 C to the 15 C, including work by two local artists from Colle Val d'Elsa, Giovan Battista Tolosani and Cennino Cennini, the famous author of the Libro dell'Arte (Book of Art). In the cloister one can still find remains of frescoes and various preparatory drawings for frescoes by painters from the school of Duccio di Boninsegna.

From Piazza Santa Caterina, continuing along the main road flanked by aristocratic palazzi, one reaches Palazzo Renieri-Portigiani, currently the home of the Palazzo Comunale with its facade of ashlar masonry and a huge crest of the Medici family. The palazzo was built at the request of Bernardino Renieri, who held the post of engineer at the French court of Charles IX, and who was appointed Guelfa architect in the service of Francesco I de' Medici. Dated to between 1575-1580, the building is stylistically similar to the palazzi designed in the Florentine 'manner' by Bartolomeo Ammannati, and is marked by the two-tone use of colour based on terracotta tiles and travertine.

 

Campana bridge

   
  Alongside the Town Hall or Palazzo Comunale stands the Campana bridge, which joins the Borgo and the Castello districts, giving access to the town center.
Today, the difference in ground level, which provided the town with a natural means of defense, is spanned by an impressive brick-built arched ramp, forming an introduction to the stupendous architectural scenario of Palazzo Campana.

   
Palazzo Campana

   
  Colle Alta, has well preserved the typical medieval structure with narrow paved lanes, steeply sloping streets and flights of steps. An arch opening in the facade of the beautiful Palazzo Campana leads to the town. The 16th century palace, an example of Italian Mannerism, was built by Giuliano di Baccio d’Agnolo, and marks the entrance to the Castle, Il Castello di Piticciano, the oldest part of Colle.
Palazzo Campana was built on the site of the medieval Porta a Ripa, between 1539 and 1550, on the orders of Francesco Campana.
Francesco Campana was doctor in civil and religious law, he was adviser and secretary to Duke Alessandro de' Medici, the Duke of Urbino, and secretary to Clement VII and Duke Cosimo. He illustrated the most difficult passages of Virgil's Aeneid, entitling his work Virgiliana Quaestio.

 
Palazzo Campana
       
Colle di Val d'Elsa boasts three different museums, as well as an important library, that houses several important archives, as well as a large collection of antique and modern books.

   

R. Bianchi-Bandinelli Museum of Archaeology | Piazza del Duomo, Palazzo del Duomo

   
 

The museum has its seat in the 14th-century Town-Hall and gathers various local archaeological material from the necropolis of Monteriggioni and other excavations in the area. It includes the Terrosi-Vagnoli Collection and some archaic finds dating back to the 6th century BC, as well as funerary urns, grave goods, pottery, craters and bronze coins.
The reasons why the museum arouses such interest are also due to the splendid pieces which come from the tomb of the noble Calisna Sepu family, in the context of the Pierini Tomb (7th century BC).
The Calisna Sepu tomb, considered to be the richest Hellenistic find made in northern Etruria, has large black-slip vases which are regarded as among the most representative of this kind of pottery, the only example of overpainted Volterran kelebe, some very fine bronze mirrors, and a large array of table ware as used by the Etruscan upper class.

Opening time: Tues. to Fri. 15-17, Sat. and Sun. 10-12 and 15-18 (from Oct. to March); Tues. to Fri. 10-12 and 17-19, Sat. and Sun. 10-12 and 16.30-19.30 (from April to Sept.) Closed on Monday.

   
Le Ville necropolis and the Dometaia necropolis

   
  In the necropolis situated north-west of the small collection of houses at Le Ville, the first productive excavations in the area were carried out in the 18th century, and continued in the following century (1872), leading to the discovery of numerous objects of various sorts, as well as the more recent exploration by the Gruppo Archeologico Colligiano (Colle Archeological Group) which, with the aim of cleaning the burial site in the area reported from the various excavations, has, since 1976, uncovered fully 10 chamber tombs, all seriously damaged, and often filled in owing to the collapse of their roof. They had already largely been robbed.
Around 20 tombs have been cleaned and studied since 1974 at the Dometaia necropolis and, although they are spread out in a long line over the crest of the ridge, two larger groups can be discerned among them: one around 150 metres away before one gets to the houses at Dometaia, and the other in the borgo (hamlet), both along the road and underneath the houses themselves.

   
The Diocese Museum of Religious Art | Via del Castello, 31

 

Master of Badia a Isola, Maestà
  Municipal and Religious Art Museum, which will be moved to the old Conservatory of St. Peter, houses a collection of 12th- to 17th-century Sienese and Florentine paintings as well as church furnishings, liturgical gold-work, sculptures and frescos of the 12th- to 16th century from the Cathedral and other local churches. Its masterpieces are some splendid frescoes by Bartolo di Fredi and One of the oldest pieces of medieval art, the Maestà, from Badia a Isola (near Monteriggioni), a skillful and beautiful work by an unknown artist from the Siena area. The so-called Badia a Isola Master was active at the end of the 13th century in the small circle of Duccio di Buoninsegna, and introduced certain important innovations in his work, thanks to contact with the works of Cimabue and of the young Giotto. His name, Master of Badia a Isola, is taken from a depiction of the Madonna and Child that hangs in the Badia dei Santi Salvatore e Cirino in Abbadia a Isola.

Opening time: Sat. and Sun. 10-12 and 15.30-18.30, closed the other days (from Nov. to March); Tues. to Sun. 10-12 and 16-19, closed Mon. (from April to Oct.)

 
Museum of Lead-Crystal Glass | Via dei Fossi (ex area-Boschi) | www.cristallo.org

 
 

The Museum of Lead-Crystal Glass is the only museum in Italy wholly dedicated to lead-crystal glass. It hosts some important public and private collections of crystal art works coming from the 15th century until today.

Opening hours in summer (Easter - 31 October): from Tuesday to Sunday and festive days 10.00 - 12.00 / 16.00 - 19.30.
Opening hours in winter (1 November - Easter): from Tuesday to Friday, 15.00 - 19.00
Festive and prefestive days 10.00 - 12.00 / 15.00 - 19.00
Closed on Monday.


 
Le Ville necropolis and the Dometaia necropolis.


   
   
Neighboring towns of Colle di Val d'Elsa are Casole d'Elsa, Monteriggioni, Poggibonsi, San Gimignano and Volterra.
Surrounding smaller towns and hamlets: Borgatello, Bibbiano, Campiglia, Castel San Gimignano, Collalto, Coneo, Gracciano, Le Grazie, Mensanello and Quartaia.

   

Parish Church of Santi Ippolito e Cassiano in Coneo


 
Pieve of SS. Ippolito and Cassiano

  The country church of Santi Ippolito e Cassinao existed as far back as the 10th century, and was later part of the bishopric of Volterra. Towards the end of the 12th century it came into the sphere of political influence of the municipality of Colle. From that time on, it did not flourish particularly, possibly due to a descrease in the local population. Whatever the explanation, as early as 1413 it was found to be largely in ruinsThe original layout had three naves and three apses. Today only the central and the left naves remain. The upper part of the faqade is covered by a lively red and white bi-colored faqade, typical of the Siena-Volterra area, with a type of masonry that alternates one stone rank with two brick ones, according to a type that is also found, in the Montesiepi Hermitage, not far from Coneo. The remains of a blind loggia with a double-lancet window are on the upper part of the faqade, anda circular opening corresponds to the bell tower. The completely bare interior has a variety of pillars and richly decorated capitals.

The Parish Church of Santi Ippolito e Cassiano in Coneo is reached by a small road set beyond Campiglia dei Foci, on the road that goes from Colle Val d`Elsa towards Volterra.
 


   
     

Abbazia di Conèo



 
Abbazia di Santa Maria Assunta a Conèo

The Abbey of Santa Maria Assunta in Conèo

 

 

Abbazia di Conèo, Badia a Coneo near Campiglia, is a Romanesque structure that was founded by the Vallombrosan monks at the start of the 12 C and is one of the most interesting examples of religious architecture near Colle Val d'Elsa. Its plan is in the shape of the Latin cross, as is typical of Vallombrosan churches, and the intersection of the nave and the transept is surmounted by a sectioned dome, which is octagonal inside. The internal capitals and the cornice which runs round the outside of the building are decorated with starred flowers and other geometrical devices, of great artistic beauty. The building possesses a number of pre-Romanesque features, with numerous external brackets in the shape of imaginary animals.
Here one can join the historic Via Francigena.

The Abbazia di Conèo is reached by a small road set beyond Campiglia dei Foci, on the road that goes from Colle Val d`Elsa towards Volterra. At Le Grazie, opposite the sanctuary, turn down the provincial road for Casole d'Elsa, following it for around 1 km, as far as the turn-off on the right for Conéo and the Abbey of the same name.
Take the narrow, surfaced road and cross open, rolling countryside, which was once heavily wooded (from which derives the place-name Bosco di Conéo or Coneo Forest, which is not dissimilar to Boscona, another place not far away).
We then reach a bifurcation and, if we turn to the left, we arrive at Conéo.
Instead, continuing on to the right, we descend through woods of common oak and Turkey oak as far as the small road to the left for the nearby Abbey of Conéo.

Pievi or small churches in Tuscany | The Abbey of Santa Maria Assunta in Conèo



 

The Abbey of Santa Maria Assunta in Conèo, façade
The Abbey of Santa Maria Assunta in Conèo, façade

 


The Abbey of Santa Maria Assunta in Conèo,interior

Casole d'Elsa

   

Casole is a little idyllic hilltop town with the most beautiful country side surrounding it. The area counts 3.000 inhabitants called Casolesi. Casole d'Elsa is an extensive Commune and is placed close to the source of the river Elsa. For this reason the area was highly populated back in Etruscan times, and several remnants can be found in the area.
Casole has always been under the influence of the big cities, first by Volterra that back in the middle ages became a bishop ship, then followed a short time of independence where Casole had its own town administration (the town hall building testifies to this). Finally, after 1260 the town fell in the hands of Siena.
Today the town appears particularly well kept and, in fact, the town administration often organizes cultural events such as art shows.
The town lives off of tourism which has increased a lot in the last few years and off of agriculture. Lately the area has been given its own DOC for winemaking.
Casole municipality has been awarded the Orange Flag, the mark of quality for tourism and the environment of the Touring Club Italiano, awarded to inland towns which distinguish themselves for the quality of their hospitality.

The main street runs south to north through the center, connecting the two gateways of the village: Porta Rivellino to the south, Porta ai Frati to the north. These two gateways no longer exist today. Rivellino was blown up by the nazis in the second word war.
La Rocca is the most important civil building in Casole, today the seat of the Town Hall. An imposing quadrangular edifice with a massive stone tower in the northern corner and another smaller one at slight angle at the opposite corner.

The collegiate church of Santa Maria Assunta in Casole d'Elsa hosts the now restored funeral chapel of the powerful Aringhieri family, the most important members of which were Beltramo, known as 'Il Porrina', and Ranieri, bishop of Cremona. They are represented, in small dimensions as worshipping the Virgin, in the great fresco showing Mary in Maestà with Angels and Saints.
The death dates of the two Aringhieri (prior to 1309 'Il Porrina', in 1312 Ranieri), allow us to anchor to a very early date this important fresco, whose anonymous author is infact named 'Aringhieri Master'.
The Aringhieri commission brought us another great masterpiece of italian gothic sculpture, kept in the collegiate church in Casole too: the wonderful funeral monument of 'Il Porrina', dominated by the whole-lenght portrait of the dead, a work made by one of the greatest personalities of the first half of 14th Century italian sculpture, Marco Romano.

The Archaeology and Collegiate Church Museum
The 12th-century Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta houses, divided in five rooms, works of art from the Collegiate itself and from other churches of the area.
The art history section of the museum presents various paintings by Alessandro Casolani (1552/1553 - 1607) and his vast family workshop, as well as a substantial number of works dating from the fourteenth to well into the seventeenth century, giving visual evidence that the artistic climate of this ‘citadel’ in the Elsa Valley gravitated mainly in the orbit of Siena, with just a few exceptions coming from Florence.
Among the medieval works, worthy of special note are a Virgin and Child by the “Monterotondo Master,” heavily influenced by Duccio, and a beautifully illuminated choir book decorated by Lippo Vanni. Other remarkable exhibits: panels by Domenico di Michelino and Neri di Bicci, a wooden casket decorated with 15 scenes representing the Mysteries of the Rosary by Alessandro Casolani (1522-1606). The archaeology section houses finds (mostly Etruscan) from a local necropolis.

 

Casole d'Elsa z02
Casole d'Elsa

 

Chiesa di Pievescola facade
Casole d'Elsa, facciata della chiesa di Pievescola

  Archaeology and Collegiate Church Museum | PIAZZA DELLA LIBERTA', 1 | Opening time: 10-12 and 16-19 (spring and summer); Tues. to Sat. 15-18, Sun. 10-12 and 15-18 (fall and winter) • closed Mon.

   
Villa La Suverana in Casole d'Elsa

   
  Villa La Suverana is situated in Maggiano, a frazione of Casole d'Elsa.
The term suvera is a corruption of the French noun souveraine, or sovereign.
The first records of the building date back to 1138, when it was the property of the powerful Longobard family, the Ardengheschi.
In the mid-16th century, Pope Julius II (Giuliano della Rovere) received the villa as a gift from Pandolfo Petrucci, lord of the Republic of Siena. The pope ordered that what was then an austere fortress be transformed into a splendid Renaissance villa, surrounded by a large park, and the famous Sienese architectect Baldassarre Peruzzi was commissioned to carry out the plan. The present owners, the Ricci marquises, have now turned the villa into a five-star country hotel.
The grounds have several interesting features: a large courtyard to the north, with a fine 18th-century ironwork aviary at its centre; an Italian-style garden adorned with potted lemon trees; and another garden to the south with a lily pool; a wood of holm-oaks crossed by winding paths is also part of the estate.
[read more]

 

La Suvera, the formal Italian garden
Villa San Chimento



 
  Villa San Chimento, built in the late 16th century by the Accarigi family in località Scorgiano, is an imposing two-storey building with a fine portico at the centre of the main front, in front of which is a terrace which is reached by a broad polygonal flight of steps. Adjoining the building is an attractive Italian-style garden, set out with circular flower-beds edged with box hedges and crossed by a winding path. Inside the property is an ancient oil press that is still in use.  
Parish Church of Santa Maria and Gervasio in Marmoraia

   
  The Parish Church of Santi Maria e Gervasio is found in Marmoraia, Casole d`Elsa. The small populated area of Marmoraia has only a few scattered houses and a Romanesque church, recorded for the first time in 1047. The building still maintains a part of its character as a medieval fortification, which hides the faqade. It is accessed through a door in the defensive wall. The building has three naves divided by arches that start with simple quadrangular pillars but that have been greatly altered in subsequent eras. It is still possible to see traces of its original form on the gabled fagade. Of the four elongated windows, only the center two are original.

   
Barberino Val d'Elsa

   
  Barberino Val d'Elsa, situated high up above the valley from which it takes its name and halfway between Florence and Siena, on the north-western borders of the Chianti area. The town is still characterised by a historic medieval centre set out in an oblong or shaft-shaped form.
Historically Barberino was tied to Florence for its important strategic location overlooking both directions of Florence and of Siena. For this reason the surrounding area is full of castles and fortified buildings.
Barberino Val d'Elsa comune

   
Pieve di Sant'Appiano

 
  Sant'Appiano is built on a pleasant hill, surrounded by cypresses, just a few kilometres from Barberino Val d’Elsa. The complex includes a Romanesque parish church, the ruins of an octagonal building, a cloister, a presbytert and a group of houses which constituted the village. The natural beauty of this area offers a suitable resting place for the relics of Saint Appiano.
Etruscan tombs have been discovered near the parish church.
The Parish church is documented as early as 990 CE and parts of the left nave, the apse and the crypt are pre-Romanesque. The parish church of Sant’ Appiano is the oldest medieval pre-Romanesque church in Tuscanys. It has retained its original apse and part of the north aisle, neither of which were damaged when the bell-tower collapsed in 1171. The remainder of the church was rebuilt soon after.

Opening Hours:
Summer: Saturdays and Sundays, 4pm-7:30pm
Winter: Saturdays and Sundays, 3pm-6pm


 

Pieve di Sant'Appiano

Antiquarium di Sant'Appiano

   
  Antiquarium di Sant’Appiano is a small archaeological museum located in rooms adjoining the Pieve di Sant’Appiano. It houses some of the considerable amount of material found on archaeological digs in the surrounding area.

   
Certaldo

   
  Birth town of 14th century poet and writer Giovanni Boccaccio, Certaldo is a very evocative hilltop town of fairytale beauty. The old town on the hill is accessed by a funicular, but there is also a fairly large newer city which keeps quite busy thanks to the industries that have settled in the area. The town counts a good 16.000 inhabitants, a number that hasn't changed much over the past 20 yrs.
The town has a fascinating past which goes back to pre-Etruscan times, and during the middle ages it took form thanks to its vicinity to the via Francigena (Roman road). It's medieval history is much entwined with that of Florence.


 

Certaldo
Poggibonsi

   
  Poggibonsi is the largest town in the Val d'Elsa and at the same time it's the least touristy of all. Reason being that Poggibonsi was more or less leveled with the ground during the war and has been rebuilt almost completely from scratch. The central position has made the surroundings of Poggibonsi a perfect area for important industries to settle.

   
Radicondoli

   
  Radicondoli confines to the South of the Elsa Valley and to the North of the Merse This hilltop town is tucked away between the mounts and offers incredible views.
Among the several churches in Radicondoli, is the Collegiata dei Santi Simone e Giuda, with works by Pietro di Domenico and Alessandro Casolani.Other important monumentsare the Pieve di San Simone (Saint Simon Parish), the Convento di San Francesco (Saint Francis Convent) and the Castello di Elci (Elci's Castle).


   
San Gimignano

   
  San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town and is mainly famous for its medieval architecture, especially its towers.
While in other cities, such as Bologna or Florence, most or all of their towers have been brought down due to wars, catastrophes, or urban renewal, San Gimignano has managed to conserve fourteen towers of varying height which have become its international symbol.
The heart of the town contains the four squares, Piazza della Cisterna, Piazza Duomo where the Collegiata church is located, Piazza Pecori, and Piazza delle Erbe. The main streets are Via San Matteo and Via San Giovanni, which cross the city from north to south.
There are many churches in the town: the two main ones are the Collegiata, formerly a cathedral, and Sant'Agostino, housing a wide representation of artworks from some of the main Italian renaissance artists.
The Communal Palace, once seat of the podestà, is currently home of the Town Gallery, with works by Pinturicchio, Benozzo Gozzoli, Filippino Lippi, Domenico di Michelino, Pier Francesco Fiorentino, and others.
 

San Gimignano and the Val d'Elsa
 
   
Pievescola | La Suvera

   
 

Relais La Suvera, a former medieval castle and Papal villa, stands high on a hill, overlooking rolling Tuscan countryside and Chianti vineyards.
The origins of La Suvera go back to the High Middle Ages as the Castle of the County of Siena ruled by the legendary Countess Ava Matilde dé Franzesi, a relation of the King of France Clovis, also known as the Queen of Montemaggio. It is therefore likely that the ancient name 'La Suvera' derives from the French souveraine, meaning sovereign.
The first records of the building date back to 1138, when it was the property of the powerful Longobard family, the Ardengheschi. In the mid-16th century, Pope Julius II (Giuliano della Rovere) received the villa as a gift from Pandolfo Petrucci, lord of the Republic of Siena.

Set around a picturesque courtyard, the Renaissance villa is the heart of a borgo which has developed over the centuries, with a consecrated church dedicated to Saint Carlo Borromeo in the 1400's with interiors that reflect 18th century tastes. A few later buildings complete the complex which is surrounded by a park with Italian formal gardens dating back to the 18th century.

 

La Suvera
       
       
   
   

Comune Colle di Val d'Elsa


   

The Francigena in provincia di Siena




Via Francigena | From San Gimignano to Monteriggioni

   


   
Total length (km): 29.8
Travel time on foot (h: min): 7.30
Paved roads: 19%
Dirt roads and driveways: 70%
Mule tracks and trails: 12%

Getting to the starting point: FS Empoli-Siena Railway Line, Poggibonsi station; bus line 133 for S. Gimignano


This 29.8 km leg begins in San Gimignano and takes in about 7 hours to complete. It is one of the most beautiful legs of the Via Francigena, and after the frst section of the path, you begin to walk up and down in the valley of the Foci river, near Molino d'Aiano.

A path leads upward to the Romanesque church of Santa Maria a Coneo. Then you cross the bridge on the hilltop to reach the Romanesque church of San Martino di Strove. Then you go to the Abbey of Island, before catching a sight of Monteriggioni, with its unmistakable ring of walls and towers that dominate the surrounding hills.


 
Via Francigena | From Gambassi Terme to San Gimignano

Via Francigena | From Monteriggioni to Siena
   
         
 
   
 

 


Located on the outskirts of Castiglioncello Bandini, Podere Santa Pia offers the quiet tranquility of a private retreat, with numerous attractions and gorgeous small hillside villages, natural reserves and beautiful beaches only a short drive away.
Explore the medieval hillside villages of Sovicille or Casole d’Elsa on your way to Colle Val d'Elsa and Volterra, marvel at settlements that date back to Etruscan times, try some Vernaccia di San Gimignano wines in San Gimignano, where the refined beauty of the squares and churches blends perfectly with the ancient traditions of its white wines. The Vernaccia di San Gimignano was the first Italian wine to receive the Doc recognition back in 1966. It is now the only Tuscan Docg white wine.

Hidden secrets in Tuscany | Holiday home Podere Santa Pia

 

 

Organic winegrowing in Tuscany

Italian winegrowing is discovering organic farming. With almost 38,000 hectares of organic vineyards, Italy is at the peak of European production.
Organic wine is made from grapes that have been grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. There is little or no manipulation of wines by reverse osmosis, excessive filtration, or flavor additives (such as oak chips). The use of added sulfites is debated heavily within the organic winemaking community. Many vintners favor their use, in extremely small quantities, to help stabilize wines, while others frown on them completely.
Biodynamic winemaking follows the teachings of Austrian anthroposophist Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925), and incorporates homeopathic treatments, as well as astronomical and astrological considerations, into the organic process.

Colombaia was established in the early ’70s in the hamlet of Mensanello. Piero Lomazzi—who was brought up in a southern Italian winemaking family— reclaimed a long-abandoned Tuscan farm and extending the existing vineyards.Two decades ago Piero’s son, Dante and his wife Helena took over the winemaking reins at Colombaia. His great-grandfather Giovanni and his brothers Vittorio and Carlo were wine merchants in Milano Porta Ticinese at the beginning of the twentieth-century. The post war period (1919) saw Carlo and Giovanni's sons entering the company. This was the generation of his grandfather, Dante, who he is named after.

The complete conversion to organic farming methods (certified by Istituto Meditteraneo di Certificazione) took place in ’90. Dante and Helena have recently begun making the switch from organic to biodynamic farming methods. The house and wine cellar are located on a wide hill that is surrounded by 4 hectares of vines containing the indigenous Sangiovese, Colorino, Malvasia Nera and Canaiolo varieties.
The vineyard is 220 meters above sea level and benefit from an outstanding Southwest exposure. Dante, named for his winemaking grandfather, is a third generation winemaker and he takes a great deal of pride in farming his vines organically. His respect for the environment and complete rejection of industrial-produced wine is a refreshing change for Tuscany.

Today, the range of products centres on Chianti dei Colli Senesi D.O.C.G., with 80% San Giovese grapes, alongside a White Tuscan I.G.T. wine made from traditional white grapes from Chianti, Trebbiano and Malvasia.

Wines

Colombaia Chianti Colli Senesi D.O.C.G, Toscano IGT Rosso Jeune Vigne, Toscano IGT Rosso Vigna Vecchia, Sparkling Rosé, Toscano IGT Bianco, Bianco Frizzante IGT.

Podere San Francesco già COLOMBAIA
Località Mensanello, 24, 53034  - Colle val d'Elsa (SI)
e-mail:info@colombaia.it


Wines in Tuscany | Organic winegrowing in the Montecucco and Brunello di Montalcino regions

Wines in Tuscany | Map of organic and natural wingrowers in southern Tuscany

 

Podere Santa Pia is a peaceful retreat, perfect for relaxing with a magnificent panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea and the island of Montecristo

 

Restaurants in Colle di Val d'Elsa

Ristorante Arnolfo | Via XX Settembre, 50 | tel. 0577 920549

This exclusive restaurant is located in the historic centre of the town in the indoors of a 16th century Palazzo. Because they only offer arround 6 tables (for four persons) it is very familiar. It has a beautiful panoramic terrace and is considered as one of the best restaurants in Tuscany having received numerous awards over the years. The wine cellar offers an excellent variety.

Il Ristorante il Cardinale | Loc. Abbadia - Via Piemonte, 10 | tel. 0577 923707
The Il Cardinale restaurant is located in the "Relais Della Rovere" hotel, a former abbey dating to the 11th century, which was later the residence of Card Giulio Della Rovere, later to become Pope Julius II.

Ristorante l'Antica Trattoria | Piazza Arnolfo di Cambio, 23 | tel. 0577 923747
Situated in the main square in the lower part of town, beneath the historic portico of Piazza Arnolfo di Cambio, this is a highly-regarded restaurant offering variations on Tuscan cuisine, while paying attention to the great classics, with an excellent cellar.

Il Ristorante Villa Belvedere | Loc. Belvedere - via Senese | tel. 0577 920966On the outskirts of the town, close to the southern exit of the Florence to Siena highway, the restaurant stands alongside Hotel Villa Belvedere, in a fine 18th century palazzo, nestled among large Italianate gardens.

Il Ristorante Dietro le Quinte | Vicolo della Misericordia, 14 | tel. 0577 920458
Housed in an historic medieval building, right in the very heart of the historic center of the Castello district of Colle di Val d'Elsa, it has a large terrace, offering panoramic views, perched right atop the old historic town walls.

La forchetta di Caterina
| Piazza S.Agostino, 9 | tel. 0577 920231
Situated in Piazza S. Agostino, opposite the church of the same name, in the lower part of town.

Ristorante Tre Archi | Loc. castel San Gimignano - Via di castel San Gimignano, 35/B | tel. 0577 953099
Situated outside Colle, in Castel San Gimignano, on the border between the municipal districts of Colle di Val d'Elsa, San Gimignano and Volterra.

Ristorante Molino il Moro | Via della Ruota, 2 | tel. 0577 920862
Just a stone’s throw from Piazza Arnolfo di Cambio, this restaurant is located inside an ancient medieval water-mill (molino), known as the Molino del Moro, which is still in working order, albeit only for demonstration purposes, and is operated by water power supplied by the town’s "gore" (water channels).

Ristorante Fattoria Di Mugnano | Loc. Mugnano | tel. 0577 959023

Ristorante Il Frantoio | Via del Castello, 38 | tel. 0577 923652

Ristorante Da Simone
| Piazza Bartolomeo Scala, 11 | tel. 0577 926701 | http: www.ristorantedasimone.it
Situated in Piazza B. Scala, in the lower part of the town, a restaurant with a charming atmosphere, exclusively concentrated on specialities of fish and typical Tuscan meat recipes, with a selective wine cellar, in a place where past, present and future meet in a perfect harmony.

Ristorante La Cartiera | Via Oberdan, 57 | tel. 0577 924116

Ristorante La Speranza | Loc. La Speranza | tel. 0577 929696

Ristorante Da Jonatan | Via dello Spuntone, 2/A | tel. 0577 926753

Ristorante Il Feudo | Via del Castello, 46 | tel. 0577 924673

Ristorante La Ruota | Loc. Gracciano - Via Fratelli Bandiera, 70 | tel. 0577 929181

Ristorante Enoteca a Venezia | Via Usimbardi, 7/9 | tel. 0577 922241

Ristorante il Calandrino | Loc. Borgatello, 6 | tel. 0577 958925

Ristorante Aiazzi | Loc. Gracciano - Via Fratelli Bandiera, 86 | tel. 0577 929240

Ristorante Cinese Fontana Della Felicita | Via Gramsci, 16 | tel. 0577 921045

Ristorante Pizzeria Bar il Torrione | Via Porta Vecchia, 23 | tel. 0577 923700

Ristorante Boccon Bacco |Localita' Belvedere - zona industriale, ingresso 1 | tel:0577 930551