Poggibonsi - guide for visitors to Poggibonsi in Tuscany

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Poggibonsi – guide for visitors to Poggibonsi in Tuscany

Poggibonsi - guide for visitors to Poggibonsi in Tuscany

What to see and where to stay in Poggibonsi - a guide for visitors to Poggibonsi

Poggibonsi
The new town of Poggibonsi




The environs of town of Poggibonsi are well worth a visit by anyone travelling from Florence to Sienna via Colle di Val d’Elsa and Monteriggioni. The modern business centre of Poggibonsi is not especially picturesque but there are numerous interesting and important historical sights in the neighbourhood. Here we provide a brief guide for visitors to Poggibonsi.

Poggibonsi takes its name from Poggiobonizio, a town that was formed in 1155 when a Count Guido Guerra moved the populations of five villages in the area into the new location. Poggio Bonizio, like its predecessor villages, was an active commercial centre in large part due to its location on a branch of the Via Francigena pilgrimage route that extended all the way from Canterbury to Rome.

The town was destroyed a number of times during its history, most recently during WW II. (Joseph Heller’s first bombing run was over Poggibonsi on 24 May, 1944.) The consequent periodic rebuilding over the centuries has resulted in a number of beautiful structures and several interesting archaeological sites. In 1270, Poggibonsi became definitively Guelph and an ally of Florence. The Florentines facilitated – or at least intended to carry out – a number major building projects. The most recent and spectacular of these was initiated in 1484 by Lorenzo de’ Medici who envisioned a new town to be created in accord with the Renaissance idea of the “Ideal City” based on designs by Antonio and Giuliano da Sangallo, much as Pope Pius II did for Pienza. Construction began but work on it ceased after the death of Lorenzo and the huge fort was never completed. In 1991, preliminary research began on the hill and systematic archaeological excavations are bringing to light what remains of the last mediaeval settlement. These excavations can be visited.

La Fortezza Medicea Poggio Imperiale at Poggibonsi
La Fortezza Medicea Poggio Imperiale at Poggibonsi

Within Poggio Imperiale, there is a “Archeodromo” which is an early mediaeval open-air museum with full-scale replicas of mediaeval buildings where enthusiasts carry out various activities characteristic of the period and place, dressed in the appropriate garments. A large part of the Archeodromo is dedicated to a Longobard village. Visitors can watch the “villagers” at work and ask questions about the activities and implements.

In addition, there is a reconstructed curtis (court) of the Frankish period. At the end of the Frankish period, approximately during the 9 C, the village underwent a further transformation into a curtis that reveals a more complex economic activity, with a greater number of structures (remains of various granaries, chicken coops, forges, crafts and furnaces were found), all gathered around the main house: the long house of the village lord. The nucleus of houses thus becomes a probable business centre in the Valdelsa area.

Archeodromo of Poggibonsi
Archeodromo of Poggibonsi