Architecture of Poggibonsi


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Architectural sights of Poggibonsi and its vicinity

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Val d'Elsa

Church of San Lucchese

San Lucchese San Lucchese

The monumental complex of San Lucchese, a convent and basilica developed around the primitive Romanesque church of S. Maria in Camaldo and its immediate settlements is located on one of the most beautiful and atmospheric hills of the central Valdelsa, less than a kilometer from the historical centre. Traces of this primitive building remain visible in the left wall of the large Gothic church, built around 1252, and also in the facade. The basilica, one of the largest houses of worship in the Valdelsa, has undergone, over the centuries, additions (the apse of the chapels was built around the middle of the 14 C, while the portico in front of the basilica is from the 17 C), transformations and renovations of recovery, especially on the facade and roof (for damage due to landslides, earthquakes and the bombardment of 1943) without however being distorted and generally maintaining the original structure intact. Inside there is a non negligible series of works of art: an immaculate conception in terracotta (Giovanni della Robbia), two frescoes by Bartolo di Fredi (including the famous Madonna del Cardellino), still frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi and Cennino Cennini in the chapels of San Lucchese (the body of the saint is preserved there), others by Arturo Viligiardi illustrating events of the life of San Lucchese. The sacristy, which can be accessed from the right side of the basilica, preserves a precious wardrobe with 17 splendid panels by Memmo di Filippuccio.

The convent, which is accessed from a door to the right of the basilica, preserves the Chapter House of the late 1200s, which closes on one side the large 17 C cloister, adjacent to the basilica itself. From here you have access to the refectory, built in 1400, which preserves a splendid fresco by Gerino da Pistoia, The multiplication of the loaves and fishes.

La Fonte delle Fate

On the road leading to San Lucchese and about 200 meters from the latter, the Fonte di Vallepiatta, known as the Fate, is the only major architectural find of the overlying and destroyed Poggio Bonizio. Rediscovered, in part, in 1803, after having been buried in 1484 with the construction of the Sangallo Fortress and subsequently restored to its original state, this large public water source (the largest in size in the entire Sienese territory) has been completely restored, cleaned up and brought back to its ancient splendour thanks to a recent intervention by the Superintendence for Monuments. It is attributed to the design of a completely unknown "magister lapidum", Balugano da Crema, who in any case poured out his great constructive knowledge. It presents itself with a sort of portico built on six double pointed arches, inside which there are tanks for collecting water. The source was (and in part still is) fed by the vast impluvium above, through a long series of galleries and tunnels.

Poggio Imperiale and the Fortezza Medicea

It is the hill overlooking the ancient Borgo Marturi and the current city and where Guido Guerra dei Conti Guidi started building the new city of Poggio Bonizio in 1155, bringing together the various peoples of the earth. Destroyed by the Florentines in 1270 with the absolute and exhaustive prohibition on no longer living there, in 1313 he hoped to rise again by the will of Arrigo VII, who made it resume construction. After the emperor died, the top of the great hill experienced silence and oblivion until 1484, when in the southern part of it, Lorenzo the Magnificent began to build the military fortress that the municipality of Poggibonsi is now fully recovering. Entrusted to Giuliano da Sangallo the construction ended, without ending, in 1510 and was immediately considered the most perfect constructive jewel of military art. In 1991, preliminary research began on the hill on behalf of the University of Siena and, subsequently, systematic archaeological excavations that are bringing to light what remains of the last medieval settlement. The large excavation site, destined to expand in the coming years, can be easily visited by following the routes suggested by the existing signs.

La Magione (the manion) of S. Giovanni al Ponte

The small but splendid monumental complex - church, guesthouse and complementary services - represents a rare example of conservation and restoration of medieval structures, referable to the XII century. It was the seat of the ancient hospital of the Gerosolimitano (and perhaps also the home of the Knights Templar) on the Via Francigena, near the ruined bridge over the Staggia, called Bonizio. The church, with a single nave ending in the beautiful apse, has in the facade motifs of particular interest, linked to the singularity of the construction elements: the remaining bell tower in travertine drafts like the whole structure; the window with saw-tooth jambs; a portal with strongly extrados archivolt. The current cross vaults are clearly rear, which certainly replaced the exposed trusses of the ceiling. The Magione complex is currently home to the Temple militia and the center of major cultural initiatives.

Badia Castle

The current 19 C construction does wrong to the primitive, formidable construction of one of the oldest Badie of the Lombard and Frankish Tuscia, together with that of S. Salvatore all'Amiata and the settlement of the Cadolingi family in Fucecchio and S. Miniato. Before being a castle and a place of defence, it was an active centre of economic, social and cultural activities of great importance. After alternating vicissitudes of the various monastic communities that followed one another, the Badia reached private individuals who transformed it into the structure that can be seen.

The surroundings of Poggibonsi

Staggia Senese

In 1994 it celebrated its thousand years of life, although historians attribute at least one hundred more to it. In the year 1000 it was in fact already an important castle, residence of a powerful family of Lombard origin, a castle, residence of a powerful family of Lombard origin, a descendant of whom, Isalfredi, had founded a church dedicated to S. Maria there. In the first half of the XII century, the Soarzi family settled in a kind of feudal condition of the monks of Badia Isola. A family that found itself having to deal with the Sienese and Florentine aims on the castle - strategically very important and vital transit point of one of the Valdelsan tracks of the Via Francigena - following the alternating political fortunes of the two cities and paying with the destruction of the castle their alliance with Siena by the Florentines. Before the end of the 13th century, the castle and most of its lands and outbuildings were purchased by Albiero Franzesi, of the Florentine family of merchants, tycoons and financiers. The Castle was rebuilt at the beginning of the 14 C together with the fortress, then the habitual residence of the Franzesi. The castle walls were repeatedly fortified and enlarged to coincide with the never dormant bitter struggles between Siena and Florence, which would only end in the second half of the 16th century. The castle still preserves the urban layout of its first fortification, characterized by a high and powerful wall circle even though it has been remodelled and transformed over the centuries, by a central road between the two main gates, now demolished, by other parallel streets, characterized from ancient courtyards, vegetable gardens, supply wells etc. The ancient Romanesque parish church of S. Maria, in the centre of the village, was completely distorted at the end of the 19 C.

Church of Santa Maria and Museo del Pollaiolo

The ancient parish church of S. Maria was completely restored in 1800. In the museum adjacent to the church it is possible to admire the painting by Antonio del Pollaiolo "S. Maria Egiziaca" and some interesting tables from the Siennese and Florentine school of the 14-15 C. The Museum is located in P.zza Grazzini at the Church of Santa Maria Assunta in Staggia, Tel. 0577 930901, open on Saturday from 16.00 to 17.30 from April to October.

Strozzavolpe Castle

Linked to an infinity of legends - some atmospheric and delicate, others cruel and fearful - it is one of the most loved places by the Poggibonsesi. Home of the ancient family of the Guidi Counts, it was further fortified by Guido Guerra at the end of 1100. Except for some nineteenth-century "invasions" (the top of the tower), recurring everywhere else in the romantic period, the structure, which can be accessed today through a drawbridge, has preserved much of the original structure, including the mighty and irregular walls. It was gradually owned by the Alberti, the Salimbeni, the Adinari, the Rinuccini, the Ricciardi and today the Bizzarri-Arcangeli. Of some interest, inside the castle, the reconstructed Sala d'armi and the small noble chapel, transformed in the Renaissance period.

More about the Castello di Strozzavolpe.

Church of S. Martino a Luco

Small but delightful Romanesque church about two kilometers from the centre of Poggibonsi. A single nave and no terminal apse, preserves the beautiful wall facing with drafts of tuff and travertine. The lunette of the portal and the architrave are rearranged. The building was recently restored thanks to the contributions of the Poggibonsese Community of S. Giuseppe.

Church of S. Andrea a Papaiano

One of the oldest Romanesque buildings in the Poggiboni area (it is remembered before the year 1000), the current building however refers to the first half of the XII century. A single large nave, ending in a raised transept and three apses, one of which has almost completely disappeared. The church was restored over a century ago (reopening of the side windows and reconstruction of the mullioned window on the facade) but not "cleaned" of the ugly plaster that still hides the fine row. Inside there is a fresco from the 15th century Florentine School (Madonna and Saints) and a Holy Family in polychrome ceramic from the 18th century.

Chiesa di S. Andrea a Papaiano- dated at 1100, where there is a fresco of the Florentine school, "Madonna and Child with Saints" dated at 1492 (perhaps work of Filippo d'Antonio Filippelli) and a the Holy Family dated 1700. The apse show three authentic monoforas.

Church of S. Maria a Talciona

The building, built in Romanesque style and dating back to the early 1100s, was extended during the thirteenth century. It has a single nave and ends with a beautiful apse. There are clear ultramontane architectural influences (portal with a growing arch and richly decorated rose window above) and, unfortunately, the signs of a hasty restoration carried out a century ago (restoration of the bell tower and consolidation of the internal row). Of particular note is the architrave of the same portal, which depicts, in a bas-relief dated 1234, the Adoration of the Magi.

Church of S. Bartolomeo a Pini

The church is located on the route of the Via Francigena di Marturi (Pian de 'Campi, Maltraverso, Galognano) but is actually easier to reach from the Cassia state road in Bellavista. The Romanesque building, consisting of a single nave and no apse, is in very poor conservation conditions but there is an initiative of the Lions Club for its complete recovery.

Church of S. Lorenzo in Pian de' Campi

Less than 2 km from S. Lucchese, along the route of the Via Francigena di Marturi, this small building, built in a Romanesque style, retains the original wall covering to a minimal extent. A single-lancet window marks a non-original portal and two small windows on the left side of the building give sufficient light to the small nave ending in an apse. There is a beautiful 15 C fresco by Pier Francesco Fiorentino. A few meters away from the building were accidentally found in 1963 ancient sacred silver objects, belonging to the disappeared church of Galognano (two patens with dedication, three chalices, a teaspoon) of great artistic value and of considerable historical relevance, vintage cheek. Known as the "treasure of Galognano", the objects are currently exhibited at the civic and sacred art museum of Colle di Val d'Elsa.

Church of S. Pietro a Canonica

Two km from the centre of Poggibonsi, the church was at the centre of an ancient monastery of religious and clerics. The Romanesque building from the beginning of the 12 C has undergone substantial devastation that has completely distorted it. Some portions of decorated lintels remain, inserted in the rows of the facade, which bear witness to the spread of the Pisano-Volterrani styles in Valdelsa.

Magione di Torri

On the oldest Valdelsano route of the Via Francigena and at the confluence of this with the so-called Volterrana Sud, Torri is located less than 3 km from the centre of Poggibonsi, on the three Vie Ulignano. It was a great mansion of the Knights of St. John, the Gerosolimitani, who used it, in 1173, for a general chapter of the order for its size and accommodation capacity. It was built in the early second millennium and consisted of a larger church, a large hospice for pilgrims adjacent to it and other complementary services. Surrounded by walls and with a single access door between the two tall brick towers (one of which survives), it was the subject of many lords of the area. Of the ancient Romanesque church, used for a long time as a wine cellar, very little remains: the upper part of the facade with the small walled rose window and part of the lunette of the portal hidden by a shed. A beautiful portal in sandstone has recently come to light which was to represent a secondary access to the care complex. Despite that Torri is considered by law an inalienable historical and artistic asset, nothing is done to save it from complete ruin.

Church of S. Pietro a Cedda

The monumental complex is located on Via Chiantigiana 6 km from the city centre. It is rightly considered the Romanesque building among the most beautiful in Valdelsa. With a single nave of the abbey type (recalls the Badia di Coneo) it ends in a splendid apse, perhaps the most significant and valuable architectural element of the entire building, which however also preserves an intact bell tower. The decorations, the friezes, the typical symbols of the medieval constructions that can be found on the various construction elements (portals, lintels, single-lancet windows, etc.) represent reasons of particular appeal. The facade is partly defaced by a rear building used as a rectory. Inside, of remarkable workmanship, a tabernacle of the School of Mino da Fiesole. A beautiful 14 C triptych from the Florentine school stolen and recovered, which has been exhibited there for centuries (now at the Civic and Sacred Art Museum of Colle di Val d'Elsa).

Church of S. Donato a Gavignano

Small, but delightful Romanesque church in the immediate outskirts of town. Subjected to devastating interventions over the centuries (the apse was destroyed in the 19 C so that the stones could be used in a wall of a vegetable garden!) It has gradually recovered its ancient appearance.

More about the Church of Gavignano.

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