Toscana - Places to Visit - Tavarnelle Val di Pesa
Tavarnelle Val di Pesas 56.98 square kilometres (22 sq. m.) are located in the hills separating the Val di Pesa from the Val d'Elsa at altitudes that never exceed 400 meters (1,312 ft.) or, in the case of the town, 389 meters (1,276 ft.). About half of the commune lies within the Chianti Classico zone.
The commune borders on those of San Casciano Val di Pesa, Greve in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti, Barberino Val dElsa, Certaldo and Montespertoli. The total population is 6,911 inhabitants (1991) with 8% of the working population engaged in agriculture (grapes and olives and other crops; sheep herding has virtually vanished).
The history of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa - The antiquity of settlement in the Tavarnelle area is indicated by the archaeological evidence of several epochs found near the Pieve di San Pietro in Bossolo as well as by surviving place names. Major roads of the Roman period traversed the territory and linked Florence with Siena. Tavarnelle became important only in relatively recent times and it was recognized as a commune, separated from Barberino Val dElsa, only on September 24, 1892.
The existence of other castles in the Tavarnelle district is documented for the 11th and 12th centuries. Some have disappeared, like Collebuona (today Camposole) and Sambuca, while others still exist as remains of ancient defenses incorporated into buildings of later date, like Uglione, Poggio al Vento and Matraio (the modern Casa Brizi). Some old structures, like Petroio, became villas. The Passignano castle, once the site of a Lombard outpost, was incorporated in the Abbey of Saint Michael Archangelo.
It is entered from a 16th-century portico. San Donatio in Poggio also has a nave and side aisles and is noteworthy for the way in which it concretely expresses the special characteristics of the rural Florentine Romanesque style.
Despite its limited area, the town of Tavarnelle contains numerous traces of the past. The two parish churches, in particular, stand out for their architecture. San Pietro in Bosco is a structure in a late Romanesque style constructed on the lines of a basilica.
In addition to the church of San Biagio at Passignano, mention should be made of the 15th-century convent of Santa Maria at Morrocco and the elegant late-16th century Oratory of Santa Maria at Pietracupa.
Ancient manors transformed into farmhouses include Cetinale, San Michele a Viculo, Palagione, San Polo di Tirne, Torricella and Torrino. Among the villas, those of Bonazza, Fillinelle, Nero, Ugo, Palazzuolo and Spoiano, as well as Villa Torrigiani at Spicciano are particularly outstanding.