Charming stories and hidden treasures in Val d’Elsa
Casole d’Elsa, an old Etruscan settlement - as shown by the numerous tombs that have been discovered - is a village located on the ridge of a hill that offers visitors an outstandingly beautiful view of the landscape. Back in the 11th and 12th century, Casole d’Elsa belonged to the Bishops of Volterra. However, in 1260, Siena took control of it and, due to its geographically strategic location, new defence systems had to be built, such as the 2 towers which are still standing today. Casole therefore became the “walled tower” surrounded by walls that can still be seen.
The two old gateways to the village no longer exist; the one to the north was called Porta ai Frati, while the one to the south, called Porta Ravellino, was destroyed by the Nazis during the Second World War. The western area of Casole is characterised by two intact circular towers built in 1481 by Francesco di Giorgio Martini, who was commissioned to fortify the original defence system.
The Rocca (the Castle), which is presently the seat of the Municipality of Casole, is a small fortress dating back to the 4th century and it is considered to be one of the most important castles of Val d’Elsa. Some arrow slits are still well-preserved and visible on each side of the portal. Inside the Rocca, its rooms host the Arte Viva Gallery, dedicated to young artists who use the place as their meeting point, while the Church of Santo Spirito hosts frescoes dating back to the 14th and 15th century.
“The name comes from the Latin word “Casula” i.e.: house or hut; in 1862 “Elsa” was added with reference to the river that gives the name to the whole area”
Palazzo Pretorio, with its facade featuring the coat of arms of the old families of Casole and Siena, hosts the Siena Art Gallery which opened in early 20th century.
The Collegiata of Santa Maria Assunta was originally a Romanesque style parish church consecrated in 1161. Inside, it is possible to admire the Baptistery featuring a 16th century christening font; the tomb of B.Aringhieri by Marco Romano, dating back to the first decade of the 14th century; the tomb of the 14th century sculptor Gano di Fazio; the painting by Alessandro Casolani called “la Pietà e i Santi Andrea e Niccolò”, documented between 1586 and 1587; some paintings belonging to the Duccio di Buoninsegna school; a polychrome-glazed terracotta altar-piece by Giovanni della Robbia; several 17th century paintings by prestigious artists (Pisani, Manetti, Volpi) as well as 19th century paintings (Ridolfi, Cassioli).
The Museo Archeologico della Collegiata is divided into two sections; the archaeological one features various remains discovered in Hellenistic necropolises (4th-2nd century BC), ceramics and cinerary urns, while the sacred art section gathers together paintings and sculptures realised between the 13th and 16th century.
What to do
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in Valdelsa Valdicecina.
Historical dwellings, charming country houses, refined relais or ancient castles, all immersed in the countryside, to share the experience of what it was like to live in another time. Find your favourite accommodation and enjoy each awakening in the beauty of Valdelsa Valdicecina.