Colle di Val d'Elsa
Art and nature in the city of crystal along the Via Francigena
Located in a valley where many other Etruscan settlements can be found, Colle Val d’Elsa - also called “Città del Cristallo” - developed during the Middle Ages between the River Elsa and one of the best parts of the Via Francigena. It was the centre of the battles between Guelfs and Ghibellines, including the famous Battle of Colle in 1269, described by Dante.
Around the medieval Castle, Arnolfo di Cambio’s native town later developed as an important cultural and economic centre, with a wealth of artistic and architectural attractions such as the Teatro dei Varii, one of the smallest box theatres in Europe.
From the Middle Ages to modern times, industrial activity (from paper mills to flour mills and from ironworks to glassworks) has developed thanks to the “Gore” system, the famous canalisation of the river Elsa.
Such a dynamic setting has facilitated the modernisation of the town with important works including Piazza Arnolfo by Daniel Buren, the lift connecting the two parts of the city by Jean Nouvel, a Bank by Giovanni Michelucci and many others.
“The SentierElsa, directly accessible from the historic centre, allows a complete immersion in nature, a couple of steps away from the city.”
Colle di Val d’Elsa is considered to be the “City of Crystal” due to its great tradition in crystal glass blowing, a technique which is still used nowadays by master blowers to shape beautiful and rare objects.
The charming crystal glass blowing technique, both artistic and industrial, is still visible today in glassware shops or crystal grinding workshops. The Museum of Crystal tells us the story of crystal blowing, from its origins until the most recent works of art of famous designers such as Ettore Sottsass, Joe Colombo, Vico Magistretti, Enzo Mari.
The Elsa River, famous for its intense blue colour, crosses the city, beautifully located inside a canyon, and stretches into the middle of lush vegetation for 4kms, with wonderful views, waterfalls, and wooden bridge passageways. The “SentierElsa” directly accessible from the historic centre, allows a total immersion into nature just a few steps from the city. In the summer, guided tours, canoeing and rafting sessions are planned.
Also not to be missed is the extensive exhibition at Museum San Pietro as well as the Archaeological Museum “Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli” and the sizeable and memorable Etruscan necropolis of Dometaia.
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.