Toscana - Places to Visit - Poggibonsi
Situated on hills halfway down the Elsa Valley, Poggibonsi extends over an area of 70.73 square kilometres (27.31 sq. m.). Only a small portion of the town's territory lies within the Chianti Classico zone. The altitude never exceeds 350 meters (1,148 ft.). Poggibonsi itself is located at a height of 115 meters (377 ft.).
The town's borders touch those of Barberino Val dElsa, Castellina in Chianti, Monteriggioni, Colle Val dElsa and San Gimignano. Poggibonsi has 26,529 inhabitants (1991) and only 5.1% of the working population is engaged in agriculture (grapes, olives, fruit trees, and various other crops).
The history of Poggibonsi - Situated in an area settled since antiquity at the centre of the Elsa Valley in the heart of Tuscany, Poggibonsi has always drawn advantage from its favourable position at a crossroads. Its predecessor in the Middle Ages, Poggiobonizzo, was situated on the summit of the hill overlooking the site of the modern town and its origin was linked to the castle of Saint Michael. The Pieve di Santa Maria was built at the foot of the hill and the village of Marturi grew up around it. It became the nucleus of the modern town of Poggibonsi.
The Guidi family began to build an important road connecting Marturi with the new Via Francigena. This caused great resentment in Florence, which attacked and destroyed the castle in 1115.
Some decades later the Guidi, with the help of Siena, built a new castle on the Podium Bonizi but, with the defeat of the Imperial armies in the second half of the 12th century, Florence obtained the same privileges as Siena with regard to the castle. Although it had to swear loyalty to both cities, Poggibonsi ably exploited the rivalry that constantly set its two masters at odds.
As a result, the new castle succeeded in gaining some degree of autonomy. In reality, Poggiobonizzo usually tended to favour Siena.
After numerous upheavals and the return of the Guelfs to Florence in 1267, Poggiobonizzo again became the rallying point of the forces hostile to the city. In the same year, Charles dAnjou besieged and captured the town.
He began construction of a stronghold but, following the Ghibelline route at Colle in 1269, the castle was restored as a stronghold to resist the Guelfs. In 1270, the castle was again forced to surrender. Of the old settlement there remains for all practical purposes only the Fairies Well halfway down the ridge.
The inhabitants moved yet further down into the village of Marturi. None of the many important structures in which the territory abounds are located within the limits of the Chianti Classico region.