di Val d'Elsa is located in the province of Sienna
on a high hill overlooking the valley
of the river Elsa, in central Tuscany. The town was
probably founded during the Dark
Age, sometime before the 10 C
when it was first documented. During its early history, Colle
di Val d'Elsa was ruled by bishops and later became a fief of the Aldobrandini family.
In 1333, it fell into the possession of the Florentines. From the
mediaeval period onwards, Colle di Val d'Elsa was famous for its wool
production and paper manufacture, and from the 15 C onwards, it
was also an important centre for printing and for the manufacture of glass
bottles, an industry that later evolved into the production of
crystal glass for which the town is still famous. Wool, paper and
glass production all relied on the waters of the Elsa, both for
cleaning and as a source of power, exploited by way of a system of
channels called gore, which exist to this day.
Colle val d'Elsa is divided into two parts: the mediaeval Upper Colle
Val d'Elsa which was known as Castelvecchio, and Lower Colle Val
suffered much damage during WW II and has since been rebuilt and enlarged to
accommodate light industry, shops and residential areas.
The ancient Upper Colle di Val d'Elsa preserves 14 C and l6 C walls and buildings,
the huge, Renaissance Porta
Nuova and other atmospheric sights of interest to
visitors. Among these are the 16 C Palazzo Campana and the arched
bridge that connect Borgo Santa Caterina with the Castello.
Along the Via del Castello, visitors will see numerous
ancient houses, towers and palazzi dating from the 15 C and
16 C, as well as the Duomo, which was constructed in 1600
on the site of a previous Romanesque church, and the Palazzo Pretorio,
dating from 1355.
Lower Colle di Val d'Elsa has some interesting shops as well as a modern
public swimming pool, the Olympia, and a beautiful park
with views of Upper Colle di Val d'Elsa.
Worth a visit. More about
Colle di Val d'Elsa.