Italy > Barberino Val D'elsa
Barberino Val D'elsa
After the re-routing of the pilgrims' way, the Via Francigena, through Florence
in the fourteenth century, pilgrims looked forward to the sight of the gates
of Barberino and their well-earned rest. The town, stretched out along the Via
Cassia, had a hospital, now housing the Library, many inns and churches for
physical and spiritual replenishment. Everything shone again because Barberino
was a new town, born from the destruction by the Florentines of the nearby powerful
town of Semifonte in 1202. Materials from the ruins were used to build a second
Barberino following the plan of an elliptical wall, two gates and a long main
street. The fourteenth century building fabric can still be seen to this day,
with tower-houses, the tall, robust building, also known as 'Palagetto', and
the Praetorian Palace The only exception is the church of S.
A neo-Gothic whim
Pilgrims taking the road to the Val d'Elsa and Siena, shortly arrived at the
parish church of St. Appian, one of the oldest churches in the Florentine countryside,
and which today shows an original part (11th century) flanked by the late Romanesque
(12th century) part. The distinction is not difficult: the former is made of
stone, the later in brick. Annexed to the church is an Antiquarium housing Etruscan
remains found in the area and paintings of sacred subjects.
The former town of Semifonte is commemorated in a unique way; in 1597, a dome
similar to that of the Brunelleschi Duomo of Florence, but eight times smaller,
was built as a sort of warning to those who dared challenge the supremacy of
the City of the Lily. Having been completely destroyed, the Florentines decreed
that Semifonte should be abandoned and never rebuilt. A modern day third millennium
project plans to turn this, together with other surrounding areas, small drops
in an ocean of wonders, into a landscaped park.
Reason for awarding the Orange Flag The area stands out for its natural environment,
the old town is well maintained and characteristic and offers many opportunities
for people to appreciate the local food tradition.