Due to its particular position, on the border of the Pisan, Florentine and Sienese lands, Castelfiorentino has always had a political, military and cultural importance, which has favored the development of an artistic heritage.
The Town Hall
The Town Hall is composed of an older part dating back to medieval times and another portion dating back to the 19th century. In the nineteenth century it was embellished by the bell tower with a clock. On the main facade there are six marble tombstones bearing inscriptions relating to local and national political events of the period between the mid-nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. In the Mayor’s office, there is a fresco representing Saint Verdiana painted on one wall by the Podestà Jacopo Peri, despite the inscription below it refers to the year 1409, the stylistic characteristics, again visible after a recent restoration, place it in the within the workshop of Benozzo Gozzoli. The Town Hall suffered a fire in 1544 and was subsequently rebuilt with the architectural features that we still see today. In 1800 the new entrance to the Town Hall was built with a new stairwell connecting the various floors. The second floor became the seat of the Magistrates’ Court until 1980.
On the bell tower of the town hall is placed a statue of “Membrino” which, legend says, was the name of a boy who saved the town from sacking and destruction by Francesco Ferrucci’s Florentine army in the 16th century. For this reason, the villagers later wanted to publicly express their gratitude towards him, placing his portrait astride the bell of the public clock.
In front of the Town Hall there is the Chiesa dei Santi Lorenzo e Leonardo.
The Vallesiana Library
The Vallesiana Library is an ancient cultural institution of Castelfiorentino. The venue is a historic building dating back to the 18th century, while the inauguration dates back to November 17, 1889 and is mainly due to the book heritage donated to the Municipality by Francesco Vallesi, the first mayor of Castelfiorentino after the unification of Italy.
Vallesi donated about 3,000 volumes to the library which were later enriched with volumes from the Società Popolare Circolante (the first public library in the country). In memory of the first phase of the library’s history there is a plaque commemorating its inauguration, held by Orazio Bacci, and a portrait of Francesco Vallesi, painted by Annibale Gatti, in the reading room. The library currently has around 58.000 documents.
The historical documentary heritage is completed by about 8000 documents from the ancient collection, about 7000 photos and slides from the municipal photographic archive and a collection of posters and posters relating to the local section, as well as archaeological finds from the area.
Porta al Borgo and City Wall
With its grandeur it once marked the entrance to the inside of the walls that embraced the castle; today, it is the only survivor in its entirety, it marks the access to the old town center. The Porta al Borgo is certainly distinguished at the sight by the presence of the niche in which houses a large clock, in addition to the red lily symbol of the city. Rebuilt in its present form in the 16th century, it was originally accompanied by four other doors: Fiorentina, Pisana, Porta al vento and Timignano.
Once crossed, to the right and to the left it is possible to walk along roads that still today are marked by ancient legacies, with remains of walls, buttressed structures and a semicircular turret. In the street that leads from Porta al Borgo to Piazza del Popolo, called “La Costa” (where you can still see some signs of old shops), deviating into Via Terino you’ll find an ancient wine window. A walk to the Parish Church of Saints Ippolito and Biagio allows you to to stroll in the Cardinal Silvano Piovanelli Park and admire other traces still intact of the ancient walls and of two towers, and the work “Raised with strength” donated by the artist Davide Dall’Osso.
The historic home is a manor house, which has some typical characteristics of the farmhouse, located in the hamlet of Petrazzi. In this house, on August 8, 1867, General Giuseppe Garibaldi stayed overnight during his visit to Castelfiorentino, while he was trying to gather support in Tuscany for the imminent military campaign against the Papal State, which culminated as is known with a heavy defeat in Mentana. On the occasion of his visit to Castelfiorentino, the General was hosted by the owner of the Petrazzi property, Tommaso Giannini, who had distinguished himself in the recruitment campaign during the III War of Independence in 1866. The Villa was subsequently purchased in 1883 by Onorato Tinti.
It still appears today with all the characteristics of the historic residence, having preserved the atmosphere of the time intact: its nineteenth-century furnishings, a truly precious collection of relics of various types (among the most significant: photos, flags of various sizes, prints which depict the main protagonists of the national Risorgimento and the Savoy dynasty) and also some documents, including a letter that Giuseppe Garibaldi wrote on June 6, 1876 from the island of Caprera, in which he thanked the “friends of Castelfiorentino” for the sum of 246 lire (a considerable sum for the time) collected by the inhabitants of Castelfiorentino, and offered to Garibaldi. The “highlight” of the historic home is the room where General Garibaldi slept, where the same furniture has been preserved, including the bed.
Piazza delle Fiascaie
The work of the master Salvatore Cipolla, located in the square of the same name, was inaugurated on March 8, 2005. It represents a tribute from the community of Castelfiorentino to one of the symbols of its political, social and economic history of the last 100 and more years.
Flasks at home have been one of the most important activities in the economy of Castelfiorentino since the end of the 19th century, but above all in the panorama of women’s work. The job of dressing flasks was handed down from mother to daughter and was paid with very low wages, but still constituted a necessary and indispensable supplement to the husband’s salary.
In this perspective, the monument represents the activity of the wage struggles that, since the end of the 19th century, the fiascaie have carried out to claim their rights.
Other Historic Buildings
In the center, exactly in Via Palestro, stands the Palazzo dell’Arciconfraternita della Misericordia, built in 1937 with a clock tower in the center. Inside, the assembly hall houses old banners and relics of the Archconfraternity, travertine plaques and precious paintings from the 1600s and 1700s.
The Castellare is located in an isolated and dominant position, reachable on foot along a path, of the road that leads from Castelfiorentino to San Miniato, passing from Casastrada, along the route of the hilly Via Francigena, should go up, as a fort or watchtower, to the X century. Following a recent restoration and adaptation to a home, it has the appearance of a large country villa while maintaining the squared stones of medieval origin.
In the Centro Storico Alto there are many houses, now privately owned, that belonged to the noble families of Castelfiorentino, such as Palazzo Brandini and Palazzo Sabatini in Via Pompeo Neri which inside have multiple frescoes and coffered ceilings. Moving to Via Attavante Attavanti we find the Birthplace of Saint Verdiana, the Patron Saint of Castelfiorentino, recognizable from the outside by a stone effigy placed on the facade.
A curiosity: In Via Terino and in Via XX Settembre, in the upper historic center, two wine windows were recently found, officially recognized as authentic by the Buchette del Vino Association.