The Teatro del Popolo in Castelfiorentino is one of the most important nineteenth-century historical theaters in Tuscany. It is the oldest theatre in Valdelsa. It was completely restored in 2009 and it presents itself today in all its renewed splendor.
It is easily accessible, as it is located in the central square of the city, just a few steps from the train station, the Teatro del Popolo di Castelfiorentino offers every year a rich season of plays, opera, music and dance, both nationally and locally.
Inside (able to accommodate 354 spectators), you can admire the stalls, the three order of theatre’s dais , the gallery and some of the original decorative elements. The visitor is also struck by some more accentuated contemporary environments, embellished with giant panels that reproduce the photos of David Bastianoni, fragments of memory capable of recomposing the relationship of the community of Castelfiorentino with its theater and its past.
The entire historical photographic archive of David Bastianoni, consisting of about 33,000 negatives, is kept and available for consultation on the top floor of the Theater. Also inside the theater there are some old stage clothes by Umberto Borsò, a famous Italian tenor, born in La Spezia but raised in Castelfiorentino, some works by the master ceramist Paolo Staccioli and old theatrical furnishings.
Inaugurated in 1867, the Theater also has a historical curtain, which depicts the famous peace signed in Castelfiorentino at the conclusion of the battle of Monteaperti, between the Guelphs and Ghibellines.
The theater and its curtain can be visited on the occasion of special openings, in conjunction with the main events scheduled in Castelfiorentino.
The main square in Castelfiorentino dates back to 1862. Originally, it was called Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, in homage to the King of Italy. In the Twenties, the internal area of the square was turned into a garden, taking on its present appearance. The design of the lily-shaped flowerbeds – clearly visible from above – was intended to represent a sort of “global monument” to the Florentine identity of the community, as well as to pay homage to the Fallen of the “Great War 1915-1918”. In this context, in 1924, the green area was named “Parco della Rimembranza” (in a similar way to other cities) and the Monument to the Fallen for the Country, by the sculptor Guido Casini, was inaugurated in the center of the square. In the second post-war period, the monumental patrimony was completed with the realization of the bust dedicated to Cesare Manetti, antifascist killed by the Germans in April 1945, and naming the square to Antonio Gramsci.
David Bastianoni Historical Archive
David Bastianoni was a tailor by profession, but he was a great photographer, portraitist, landscape painter, author of real reportages (which have been compared, in some ways, to the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau), which attest with sensitivity and fidelity the historical memory of Castelfiorentino from the early 40s, managing to raise the local and political micro-history to history.
From December 5, 2018 the Bank Cambiano 1884 S.p.A. (The oldest Cooperative Credit Bank in Italy), owner of the David Bastianoni Fund, has given it on loan to the Teatro del Popolo Foundation.
Inside the theater it is possible to admire 33,000 original negatives and the relative test prints, covering a historical period ranging from 1942 to 1955. This Fund has been entirely digitized and cataloged, making it accessible to the public.
Ridotto of Teatro del Popolo
The story of the Ridotto is closely linked to that of the great Italian theater built on the design of engineers Gaetano and Giuseppe Niccoli from 1863 and inaugurated in November 1867.
In 1894-96, next to the main structure of the Teatro del Popolo, some adjacent rooms were enlarged and used as the “Circolo Umberto I”, that is the nucleus that later gave life to the Ridotto.
As a result of new needs for expansion and improvement of the room and the huge expenses made necessary for this restructuring, the premises of the “circolo” were sold to the Casa del Fascio. Since then, what later became the Ridotto of the theater will serve mainly as a place of representation and political meetings. On this occasion, in addition to tampering with the stage that was in the hall of the Circolo, the separateness of these rooms from the main body of the theater was accentuated.
After World War II, the Ridotto, passed to the Intendenza di Finanza, was acquired by the Municipal Administration of Castelfiorentino that recovered this space, extensively remodeled under Fascism, as a theatrical place with which to meet the growing cultural demand that emerged from the seventies. Since 1995, it has become one of the most important cultural infrastructures in Castelfiorentino, thanks to its aspect of multipurpose space, with a hall for shows, a small room for film projections and large exhibition spaces.
The cinema hall was named after Mario Monicelli.