Accommodation in Florence

Tuscany is the richest place of the world for middle age villages. We present Tuscany villages.

middle age villages in Tuscany accommodation in florence near tuscany villages vacanze in toscana holidays in tuscany
your accommodation in tuscany: tuscany villages
Villa Poggio Ai Merli grants a privileged position for those who want to enjoy a Tuscan holiday in the middle of Renaissance, typical food, wine and nature.
The Villa is located at the gate of an area called Chianti, known all around the world for its history, culture and obviously the homonymous wine. The small towns are Chianti’s most authentic expression.
Therefore, we have prepared a little list of places that is possible to visit from the Villa, to enjoy the most characteristic villages near Florence, to get away to the boring and typical tourist itinerary.
A way to know the more genuine Tuscany, the one that enchanted generations of Italians and foreigners.
Tuscany villages to visit:
Barberino Val d'Elsa
In the past this town was very important for Florence, merchants and pilgrims because of its position close to the Cassia Romana, which ended up in the Via Francigena.
Before the street, that now goes on the east, crossed the village forcing travellers to stop. Because of that, close to Porta Fiorentina, in 1365 was built the Spedale dei Pellegrini by Taddeo di Ciecco.
When in 1202, Florence destroyed the close village of Semifonte, the importance of Barberino Val D’Elsa grew parallel, becoming bigger and richer.
So it went under Florence’s control, they were built walls and the village was transformed into a garrison town. Nowadays the two doors are still viewable, although the Fiorentina one is a remake, while the Senese one is the original, in stone, with an elegant gothic arch and a small bell tower in brick dated back to the XVIII century.
The defensive towers towards the Valle di Drove are the originals, too. The Palazzo Porte Pretorio is also remarkably important, with its Renaissance façade decorated with 35 coats of arms, and also the Palazzo Barberini, that once belonged to the family of Pope Urban VIII.
Barbischio is a small but picturesque town close to Gaiole In Chianti. Its origins are to be dated back to around 1010, date that appears on a paper found in Badia di Coltibuono. The castle had many owners during the centuries, from Ricasoli to the Badia di Coltibuono, from the Badia dei Cassinesi to Florence, until the Conti Guidi di Bottitolle.
At half of the XIV century the population revolted against the domain of the Guidi and subdued to Florence, that gave back the castle and its inhabitants to the Ricasoli. Because of its position on the border with Siena, the castle was the scenery of many bloody battles.
There were also two invasions by the Aragonese, in the last of which (1478), Siena managed to conquer and partially destroy the fortress. Today there is just one tower left out of four; it was restored and transformed into a private local. A part of the ancient walls still exist; whereas the view on the valley below is unaltered.
Castagnoli is a small village on the south of Gaiole in Chianti. Its origins are to be dated back to 900. In 1203 Castagnoli became part of the Lega Del Chianti and of the Florentine territory. During the years when Florence and Siena were on war, it had to suffer numerous attacks, and in the end it became part of the Granducato di Toscana. Since then, highly famed families alternated on the possession of the mansion and the territory: the Piccolomini, the Tempi and the Ricasoli. All of them had particular care of the vineyards and dedicated themselves to the production of wine, to the point that Castagnoli became one of the most celebrated estates of Chianti in the XVIII century. Today the ancient village, the mansion, the stronghold with its oval plan and the small paved square are all property of the society Rocca di Castagnoli, with the exception of some private houses.
Castellina in Chianti
Castellina in Chianti was already an important centre during the Etrurian era. Testifying this, there are archaeological findings that indicate the ancient presence of a population on the Salivopi hill. After that era, it became a roman settlement and, during the Middle-Ages, it took a relevant strategic role for the defence of Florence. It was also part of the Lega Del Chianti and became scenery of massive senese incursions.
To avoid ulterior problems, Florence built fortresses and started big works of village restoration. The architect Filippo Brunelleschi was among those who worked on the restoration. When the war finished, Castellina In Chianti went under the control of the Medici family and was transformed into a farm and sharecropping. The village became a town in 1865, and during World War II became scenery of the passage of the front, ending up with destruction and damages.
Nowadays, the place is perfect for tourists. It is beautiful, quiet, and full of stores, wine shops and suggestive alleyways. It is considered to be one of Chianti’s jewels because of its particular architecture. Important places to visit are:
  • The stronghold dated back to the XV century that today hosts the new Archaeological Museum.
  • The church of San Salvatore dated back to the XVI century, holding important work of arts inside.
  • The Via Delle Volte, the picturesque covered route placed along the oriental walls, once decorated with small towers, gone nowadays.
Castelnuovo Berardegna
Castelnuovo Berardegna is the village placed southest of the Chianti Area, in the high valley of Ombrone. It was presumably founded around 1050 by a noble family of Frankish called the Bernardo.
In the XIII century it went under the Senese domain and testified the exhausting battles between Florence and Siena. The fight for the domain of the village continued until 1555, when it became part of the Granducato of Toscana. In 1774, thanks to the Leopoldina reform, Castelnuovo took the actual territorial shape. Of the castle that gave its name to the village are still visible only the walls and a tower. On the other hand, the village has its most important point in the little irregular square where stand out the Clock Tower and the church of the saints Giulio and Clemente, with the Madonna con Bambino by Giovanni Paolo in its inside.
The alleyways and the little squares of the historical centre are enriched with taverns and shops and, to go on with the medieval tradition of painting the building’s facades, some palaces have walls painted with scenes of the Bruscello shows, the ancient form of theatre and chanting that still takes place in Castelnuovo every summer.
Gaiole in Chianti
Gaiole in Chianti is surrounded by hills full of villages, castles and mansions.
Gaiole in Chianti was famous as a commercial centre since the XIII century, and the area where it rises was already populated in the XI century. It assumed an important role when in 1250 became one of the Terzieri of the Lega del Chianti. The village is still today placed along a principal street, via Ricasoli, that enlarges itself becoming a triangular square with arcades on the sides, like the ancient “mercatali”.
The ancient heart is kept with the cathedral and a few houses in stone, whereas the medieval architectonical elements are poor. The rest of the town developed fairly recently.
Greve in Chianti
Greve in Chianti rises in the south of Florence. The zone was inhabited since the XI century and the first population were lived on the San Francesco hill. The town became base of an ancient hospital and from the XV century it hosted, in what today is the Sacred Art Museum, a little settlement of Franciscan monks.
Given its strategic position, linked with routes that quickly led to Florence, it became important under a commercial point of view. In fact, it was in the centre of a vast area full of castles, which were transformed into farm-mansions when it went under the power of Florence.
Today like in the past, the heart of the village is still Piazza Del Mercato, better known for centuries as “il Mercatale a Greve” and now as “Piazza Matteotti”, where the impressive Palazzo del Comune stands out with its neo-Renaissance style. It was built at the end of the XIX century with the statue of Giovanni da Verrazzano, on the rests of the old praetorian palace of the XV century.
Today the square hosts the exhibition-market of Chianti Classico, biological food, typical products and flowers.
The little square of Santa Croce, elegant and familiar, hosts in the underground numerous wine shops. A homonymous church of the XIV century, recently restored, can be found in the square: inside are conserved remarkable masterpieces like L’Annunciazione, by the Scuola Fiorentina of the XIV century and a triptych by Bicci di Lorenzo of the XV century.
Lucolena is placed on the summit of Mt. Domini, at 554 metres of height. Not even this village was immune to the war between Florence and Siena; in fact it sided with the first and then became part of the Florentine Republic.
Today, worth visiting in Lucolena, there is the church of Santo Stefano, dated back to the XIII century, but restored in the XX century. In the close Torsoli, there is the Romanic church of San Gaudenzio restored recently too. Not distant, there is another church, dedicated to San Michele gotico; a fresco signed by Paolo di Stefano Badaloni of the XV century is conserved inside.
Montefioralle is a small village placed on a knoll 366 metres high.
The castle, since the XII century, has always been the residence of noble families, until when, after the Florentine defeat in the battle of Monteaperti (1260), the Senese destroyed the towers and the houses.
When on the other hand, Siena was defeated, Montefioralle lost its military function and, little by little, its population moved to Greve.
Today the ancient village conserved its medieval implant and has an uncommon charm among the town of Chianti. It has very small houses in stone, a principal street irregularly paved that goes right up on the knoll and then gets back to the starting point elliptically.
There is also the quarterdeck today part of the small gothic church of Santo Stefano. This building has been recently restored and it conserves inside a tablet dated back to the XIII century, depicting “la Madonna” on the throne with the “Bambino”, made by an anonymous Florentine, and also another tablet placed behind the altar.
Panzano in Chianti
Panzano in Chianti is a village placed between Greve and Castellina in Chianti, and more exactly on the crest that separates Val di Pesa from Val di Greve.
The ancient core of the village, of Etrurian origins, is placed on a height of 500 metres, on the summit of a hill. The zone had been inhabited by the Romans around the XI century. The Castello di Panzano, built by the Firidolfi family, has still its wall perimeter, the quarterdeck and the medieval village which houses are made in stone. In the first years of the XIV century, the stronghold became part of the Lega Della Val di Greve, ally of Florence.
Presenting today mostly modern buildings, Panzano In Chianti’s worth visiting monuments include the impressive church of Santa Maria Assunta, which bell tower was obtained from one of the angular towers of the castle. Little remains of the medieval structure put aside the small chapel that now treasures an Annunciazione of Ghirlandaio.
Radda in Chianti
Radda in Chianti is a typical town in the zone of Chianti, placed on a hill between the valleys of Pesa and Arbia. It conserves unchanged the structure of concentric circles that had since the Middle-Age a principal square of lengthen shape, the walls and the defensive towers.
Its origins seems Etrurian, although the first reference to the Castello di Radda is dated back to the IX century. Radda in Chianti has also been a powerful chief-town of one of the “terzieri Della Lega Del Chianti” from 1384.
In the centre of the town rises up the Palazzo Pretorio, which construction is dated back to the XV century and today is the base of the town hall. Its facade is decorated with coats of arms in stone and earthenware. Other palaces also rise up in the centre, mostly dated back to the XVIII century.
Coming from the centre, after a short walk, there is a small square with a fountain where is located the church of San Niccolò, built originally with Romanic style but now, after many restorations, has an eclectic style that mixes neo-medieval, neo-renaissance and even liberty features together with works from the XV century.
Not far from the historical centre, there is the Franciscan convent of Santa Maria in Prato that hosts a religious art museum with pieces coming from churches of Radda in Chianti and Gaiole. Not far from Radda in Chianti there is also:
  • The Pieve of Santa Maria Novella that, restored many times during the last century. It still has the original implant to testify the Romanic capitals.
  • The village of Volpaia and its castle.
  • The church of Sant’Eufrosino, known as “la Commenda”, dedicated to the oriental bishop that was the first Christian preacher of the Chianti.
San Casciano in Val di Pesa
The first settlements in the area of San Casciano in Val Di Pesa are dated back to the Etrurian era (VII century). The village became an important centre during the Middle-Ages for its strategic position on the watershed between Val di Pesa and Val di Greve.
Gone under the control of Florence in the XII century, the town had been governed by a town-chief and fortified, becoming nearly impregnable thanks to the huge walls, towers and doors. In the XVI century the village lost its position as defensive outpost of Florence while it was being governed by the Medici. Little by little, towers and walls were demolished.
What is left today are one of the four original doors and the quarterdeck, which went under numerous transformations. In the beginning of the XVII century it became a mansion maintaining the high, embattled tower and the entrance arch with stone. Among the remarkable monuments, there is the church of Santa Maria al Prato (or Della Misericordia) built in 1304 and then restored in the XVII century.
Within its walls are kept the Crucifix of Simone Martini, the pulpit of Giovanni di Balduccio and canvases of the XVIII century. It is considered a masterpieces in Chianti area. Other interesting buildings are the San Francesco and the Collegiata of San Cassiano, dated back to the XIII century but restored in the XVIII century, with gorgeous crucifixes of the bottega del Verrocchio.
San Donato in Poggio
San Donato in Poggio is a small village located in the south of Tavarnelle. Inhabited since 989, it’s located in a strategic position along the link between Florence and Siena. The village became a fortified castle since 1033 under Conti Guidi for a long time.
In 1218 the castle went completely under the control of Florence and during all the first half of the XIII century it was a strategic location on the via Cassia. In the first years of the XIV century San Donato was also leader of the Lega Del Chianti.