Between the central Arno valley and the northern area of la valle dell'Elsa, crossroads of the channels that connect important cities such as Florence, Pisa and Siena, there’s Castelfiorentino, one of the most interesting towns in the surroundings of Empoli. Since the Middle Ages, Castelfiorentino assumed a great importance as a landmark for the confluence of the pilgrims who travelled along via Francigena and those who travelled along via Volterrana to reach Rome. But the origin of the first residence area of Castelfiorentino dates back to the Roman Age, when the town was called Timignano. During the Middle Ages, thanks to its religious importance, the town was acquired by the Bishop of Florence, and it therefore underwent the numerous conflicts between the Church and the Empire and between Siena and Florence.
The hegemony of Florence is made evident also for its name, which was sanctioned only in 1149 with the definitive assignment of the territory to the city of the Iris and with the establishment of the seat of the Podestà. Its strategic geographic location has made Castelfiorentino, through the centuries, a rich territory even from the artistic - cultural point of view. Its vicinity to the most important art cities allowed the small town to absorb significant cultural influences and, still today, the town preserves art works of unquestionable value such as for example the frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli. The first cycle of frescoes, created beginning from 1484 for the tabernacolo della Madonna della Tosse, depicts Cristo Benedicente surrounded by the four Evangelists, la Dormitio Virginis and l'Assunzione. The second cycle, instead, was produced for the tabernacle called della Visitazione, placed along via Volterrana, around 1490 and it represents some episodes of the Life of the Virgin Mary. Both of the frescoes and their respective sinopias, discovered when they were detached in 1965, at present are kept in the cultural city centre of Castelfiorentino.
Furthermore, numerous are the churches present on the territory, to testify the important role of the town as a halting landmark for the travelling pilgrims. Among the most antique, it’s worthy to recall the Parish Church of the Saints Ippolito and Blaise, placed on the peak of the hill that towers over Castelfiorentino, built beginning from 1195 as the incision of the date on the archivolt of the lateral door testifies. Also, you can’t miss the Church of Saint Francesco, exemplar of the conventual architecture of 14th century, and the brick church dedicated to the Saints Lorenzo and Barbara, where important frescoes ascribed to the painter Paolo Schiavo were found.
After having described the importance of Castelfiorentino from the historical, artistic and religious point of view, it is required to recall that the town gave birth to an illustrious politician of the 18th century: Pompeo Neri. His Trattato de la Nobiltà constitutes one of the arrival points of the political reflection of the Age of Enlightenment. Neri was also a great reformer: he was, in fact, assigned, in 1745, the drawing up of a legislative code for the entire region of Tuscany in which, among the many things, were modified the feudal jurisdictions and the duration of the Fidecommessi.
City of Castelfiorentino: Public Relations Office, piazza del Popolo 1, tel. 0571.686348-686341, fax. 0571.686387
Tourist Information Office- via Ridolfi, 1 - tel. 0571.629049
HOW TO REACH IT
- By car: from Florence take the S.G.C. Florence-Pisa-Livorno until the exit at Empoli West, proceed in the direction of Ponte a Elsa, and follow the indications for Castelfiorentino. Distance is about km 50.
- By train: from the train station of Florence Santa Maria Novella connections every hour for Castelfiorentino;
- By plane: Vespucci airport of Florence
LIST OF EVENTS
- Festival and wintertime delicacies, first two weeks of December
- Craftwork Market, month of December