The beauty of the hilly landscapes of Valdelsa has always held a strong attraction for the noble families of Florence and Siena, who established their country homes here. This is evidence by the many Villas and Castles distributed throughout the area, historical dwellings or manor houses designed in their time by famous architects.
Castello di Oliveto
Built in the 15th century by the Pucci family, recent studies have attributed it to Filippo Brunelleschi (the architect of the Florence Cathedral Dome). Several Popes stayed in the Castello di Oliveto so it is hardly surprising that two of its rooms are called “the Pope’s Room” and “The Cardinal’s Room” .
Recently it was also the location for the filming of the tv series “I Medici“.
Villa di Meleto
Of great historical importance, is associated with Marquis Cosimo Ridolfi assisted by the farmer Agostino Testaferrata, who founded here the first agrarian school in Italy in 1834. The Villa di Meleto is one of the most beautiful “historic” residences in Valdelsa and is a clear example of Renaissance architecture, complete with an Italian garden outside.
The historical archive of Cosimo Ridolfi is still kept inside the villa.
Villa Cambi Pucci in Cambiano
The villa, built on the pre-existing medieval layout of the Cambiano castle, used as a post office by Cosimo I de ‘Medici, was occupied since the early 16th century by the noble Florentine family of the Cambi and later by the Pucci family. The exterior has stone decorations. The interior has stone fireplaces and doorposts, as well as trompe l’oeil frescoes on the walls and ceilings. On the back there is an English garden.
Adjacent to the villa you can admire a chapel and the Church of San Prospero.
Castello di Coiano
At the end of the 10th century, Sigeric Archbishop of Canterbury passed through Coiano, during his return journey from Rome, along the road that will take the name of Via Francigena.
It is thanks to the crucial importance of the Via Francigena that, since the early Middle Ages, the Castello di Coiano was developed, and then transformed into an elegant villa-farm by the noble Florentine families who lived there.
Countess Carlotta Masetti built the famouse winery of the castle and in 1885 it received a government gold medal.
To the side of the villa is the Pieve dei Santi Pietro e Paolo.
Villa Pucci in Granaiolo
Built between the 17th and 18th centuries by the Pucci family, in a style typical of traditional Tuscan rural architecture: a simple facade with windows framed in pietra serena that stands out against the white plaster background. From the central part of the façade a kind of turret rises with a lovely panoramic loggia. The garden was renovated in the 1970s by the architect Gae Aulenti. In place of the now disappeared Italian garden, which dates back to a reconstruction of the early 20th century, a series of lawn stands has been built. On the back, however, an English garden was created with large flowered areas.
Castello di Cabbiavoli
Originally built in 1210 by Count Alberti, the Castello di Cabbiavoli was originally a fortified “village” of the Alberti family and in fact it maintained this aspect until the renovation works at the end of 1940. The only remaining parts of the fortified castle visible today are the defensive walls and the tower. Among the guests of the villa there is also the American actress Julia Roberts.
Other Historical Mansions
Among the noteworthy private villas in the municipal area there is certainly the Villa di Montorsoli, of which there are attestations dating back to the seventeenth century. Built in stone, it overlooks a small Rococo-style chapel and an Italian garden. Unfortunately, the villa is currently in a state of complete abandonment.
The Fattoria di Mellicciano in Castelnuovo d’Elsa which was born as a fortified structure for military control of the territory, and the Fattoria di Pallerino in Cambiano, whose buildings seem to date back to the end of the 19th century or even earlier. The architectural features of both farms differ greatly from those most commonly used in the area, specifically the scallops on the facades.
Other noteworthy villas are also Villa La Loggetta in Dogana, Villa Gelli in San Pietro in Pisangoli, Fattoria di Malacoda in the homonymous locality and Villa Il Leccio in Via Lucardese, dating back to 1901. Inspired by the neoclassical style, the villa has three floors and is flanked by a small tower with a pyramid-shaped roof. Inside the rooms there are decorations and paintings depicting landscapes, while on the outside there is an English garden. In the upper historic center there is the Villa del Conte Masetti, on the outside there is a plaque in memory of the visit by Giuseppe Garibaldi on August 8, 1867.