San Donnino Semifonte | 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.
Semifonte was a fortified village, with walls and towers and was formed by 300 family who formed the garrison of 300 soldiers.
It had 4 gates, the first in the direction of the village of Lucardo, with a high tower where there also was a very nice spring, it was so called "Porta al Bagnano" or "Porta alla Fonte". Entering this gate you were in the Borgo with houses, kitchen-gardens, smitheries and at the end there was the second gate called "del Borgo" or "della Bastia" because there was a tower (Bastia).
The third gate, nicer and bigger was called "Romana", was merloned and higher more than 120 ells, had balcony and marble small colums and a linon in stone where the gonfalon had his discourses so that the tower was called the lions tower.
The "Postierla" was the gate in the direction of Vico called "Saint Niccolò" gate because there was the church devoted to that Saint. In the center of the village there was a square with the palace of the old Visconti and the houses of the magnates and where there was a solid Rocca or Fortress.
Semifonte was originated from Florentine generations and was a feudal empire until the 1167 from a family arrived in Italy with the Longobards. Emilia, the las daughter and heir of a viscount of that family get married in 1170 with the Count Alberto de Conti Alberti, they had sons Mainardo, Rinaldo and others.
The town was menacing with its power the supremacy of Florence so that was decided to move war against the town.
As a result the town was conquered and completely destroyed so that was litterally erased from the land. The same destruction was applyed to all the castles of the valley who were allied with Semifonte.
To let the people remember the defeat and state the power of Florence on the land a reproduction of the Dome Chapel in Florence was built where once stood the town of Semifonte.
The Semifonte Chapel is a reproduction of the Chapel of the Duomo of Florence andwas built to remember the destroyed city of Semifonte.
Petrognano, representing all that remains of the lost city of Semifonte, razed to the ground in 1202 by Florence, that later, according to legend, built Barberino with stones taken from it.
The Castle of Paneretta, Monsanto | The Paneretta Castle is situated in the Chianti Classico area on the western slopes of the dominating hills of the Elsa valley, looking towards S. Gimignano. It was built around an ancient sighting tower. The morning after the battle from Montaperti, the “Ghibellini” ordered to leave the castle of Cepparello in 1260. This place was an important suburb and fortress of this area. So the sighting tower becomes bigger and reaches its importance. The first owners of the castle were the family Vettori, the last heir, Maddalena, brought it as dowry to her wedding with Ludovico Capponi in 1577. The couple restored the castle completely and commissioned Bernardino Poccetti, important manner painter, to fresco the loggia of the court. In this era the Paneretta became a place of passing by for painters and poets, one of those, Gerolamo Muzio, dedicated a poem to the castle and remained here until his death. Also the production of wine is documented from 1596, on. In 1696, Cassandra Capponi brought the castle, an important collection of codex’s, parchments and books into her marriage with the Marchese Carlo Riccardi Strozzi. This collection formed the nucleus of the Riccardian library in Florence. The Strozzi family remained owner of the castle until 1984, in this year, the family Albisetti took over. With its 309 hectares ( majority wood) the Paneretta is one of the biggest farms of the area, producing 900 hectolitres of wine from 22 hectares of vineyards.
Wines in Tuscany | The Chianti area
Linari, a pretty fortified borough of very old origins and very attractive because of its position among the green hills of Valdelsa. It can be reached from Barberino Val d' Elsa, after to have crossed the village in direction of Poggibonsi-Siena, turning to right following the indications to Sant' Appiano-Linari, Linari is approximately 5 km from Barberino, along a beautiful road that slides on the top of the hills from which you can see a wonderful sight over the entire Tuscany, in the fine days along this road can be seen the Apuan Alps, the Appennino and the Amiata Mount.
Sant’Appiano existence can be traced back to Etruscan-Roman times, with the ruins of the Baptistery and Romanesque Church where the mortal remains are conserved of the Saint who lived here in the IV-V century, and whose name was given to the village that had previously been called Monteloro.
The Parish Church of Sant'Appiano, this suggestive and beautiful Parish Church, mentioned in documents as early as 990, still retains many early Romanesque structural remains, like the part in stone in the left nave, the apse and the crypt.
The very old Parish Church of Sant'Appiano, in stone (11th century) and brick (12th century), whose attached Antiquarium Museum contains various Etruscan finds and ceramics that come from the many necropoli in the area. In the the photo, in the foreground are the remains of the Baptistery.