Castelfalfi: il Castello, il Borgo e la Pieve di San Floriano

Castelfalfi is an extraordinary example of a Tuscan village, with its castle, parish church and brick houses, framed by the hauntingly beautiful hilly landscape. Located on the crest of a hill between the valleys of the Carfalo and Roglio rivers, it offers a commanding view of the Valdera valley area, from a height of 272 metres above sea level.
The castle is the oldest part of the village, and was originally a Lombard settlement, dating back to before the middle of the eighth century AD, named Castrum Faolfi; however, the Byzantine garrison may predate the arrival of the Lombards. Renovated and altered several times, partly to repair the damage caused during various wars, the castle as it appears today still retains the basic features of the castrum, with a high, strong curtain wall and circular bastions, but these aspects are softened by an architectural style that borrows traditional elements of villa design. Of particular interest are the cellars, arranged on two levels inside the castle walls, below the ground level of the main building, which is home to some of the earliest examples of glazed vats from the early twentieth century.
In the late Middle Ages, the village outside the castle expanded, with houses, craft workshops and the church. In this period, after it had already established itself as a municipality, Pisa and Florence vied at length for control over Castelfalfi. It finally ended up under the dominion of the Florentine Republic in 1370, following the same fate as all the towns and municipalities in the area.

With the advent of the Signoria [feudal Lordship], the village became the property of several families over time, some of whom were related to the Medici family. It was then that the large farm, which had survived almost up to the present day, began to take shape, with numerous farmhouses scattered over an area that eventually grew to exceed 1,500 hectares in size. The development of the farm led to Castelfalfi reaching almost 500 inhabitants at the end of the nineteenth century.

Located at the opposite end of the village from the castle is a Medici villa and the Parish Church of St Florian. Documented since at least AD 1117, the parish church is a Romanesque building with a single nave and transept, built of squared blocks of stones with a bi-coloured arch on the main façade. It also has a brick bell tower, which is crenellated at the top. Despite numerous remodels, and the significant restoration project that took place in 1511, the church has, nevertheless, maintained its original appearance. However, the narthex with a large central arch on the main façade has not survived. This structure had been added after the original construction in the twelfth century and was present until the first decades of the twentieth century.

Today, the castle, village and parish church of Castelfalfi have been returned to their old splendour, after the work carried out during a regeneration project that included the entire area of the old estate and its numerous, scattered farmhouses, and which also brought the farm back to life. Going for a stroll through the village or the leafy park of the villa while taking in the magnificent views, relaxing in the panoramic swimming pools or playing golf in one of the most beautiful resorts in Italy – these are just some of the pleasures you can enjoy when you visit Castelfalfi. And let’s not forget that it was here, in the 1970s, that the fossilised remains of a whale skeleton, dating back to around 4.5-3.9 million years ago, were found, which is now exhibited at the Civic Archaeological Museum of Montaione.

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