History of Hamlet of Volpaia

» Posted

Vcastle between the 12th and 13th century, huddled on a hill between Montemuro and Radda,along one of the roads to Valdarno, that passed the Pesa river, Pian d’Albola, and the Chianti Mountains. North East of the village, in a place known as Castellare, stood an earlier settlement, which was abandoned before the middle of the 12th century. In 1172 the village and castle of Volpaia are mentioned in their present location: from then on it was recorded within Florentine territory and was repeatedly attacked by the Sienese. The event of the Aragonese invasion of 1478 was especially tragic.

The soldiers of Ferdinand II of Aragon, who had conquered Volpaia on July of the same year, were driven out by its inhabitants in August; only a month later, notwithstanding the heroic defense of Volpaia’s men, the fortress was recaptured by Frederick, the king of Naples’ son, The Florentines, however took definitive possession of Volpaia in September, just before the end of the war in Chianti.
During the 16th century Volpaia lost its military function and the obsolete fortifications were incorporated into the village’s buildings. A very clear example of this is Palazzo Braccini, whose facade was obtained from a length of the walls.

The castle had an elliptical layout with square defensive towers, Still standing today are the tall garrison tower and the village’s entrance, a smaller tower and a cylindrical turret which was added in the 14th century; some facades boast 16th or 17th century doorways and shields, Volpaia had a church at least since the 13th century. The church building leans against the old defensive walls, ans it can be recognized by its facade which had a door with a pointed arch and a small circular window, replaced by a 17th century window.In the second half of the 19th century the neo-classical Church os San Lorenzo, with a simple gabled facade was built a little further downhill.

Outside the walls, where the ground slopes down steeply, is the church of the Commenda of San Eufosino. The institution was founded in 1443 by the will of San Pietro di Ser Lorenzo della Volpaia. It also supported the pilgrims’ hospital, run by the knights of Jerusalem, of which there remains only an architrave with the cross of Malta on of the village’s buildings.

A considerable patrimony of landed possessions was tied to San Eufosino consisting of 9 holdings. The building, which was completed after 1450, has a simple facade with a pediment with a 15th century door crowned by a broken pediment bearing the date 1764. The interior has an unaltered Renaissance structure, having been freed by a 19th century restoration of the Baroque decorations added in the first half of the 17th century. The church’s bright rational space is marked by classical architectural framework, emphasized by pietra serena stone profiles. The corbels of the vault and the refined and the decorations under the arches are reminiscent of the architectural styles found in Michelozzo’s design for the Medici. The churches altarpiece, now kept in Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, is a Madonna and Child with Saints Eufosino and John the Baptist. The Canigiani, whose shield decorates the frame, commissioned the work from the Florentine painter Cosimo Rosselli in the last decades of the 15th century.

To the right of the Commenda starts a downhill path to the woods. The directions on two large rocks where the path forks lead to a ford in the stream and then up to the chapel of the Madonna del Fossato. This was built to house a 15th century fresco believed to be miraculous. It is preceded by a portico supported on pillars, under which the door, crowned by a curved broken gable, and two lateral windows open. Inside there is a stone plaque under the altar with the date 1687, possibly the year of the chapel’s construction.
Just beneath the village, on the left, a dead end country road leads to the Chapel of the Madonna della Neve, which was built next to a through for watering animals and an artificial lake. The chapel was built by the Braccini in 1666, as testified by the shield above the door, and the inscription under the altar.

The map to get to Volpaia:


View Volpaia Hamlet in Tuscany in a larger map