Its origins date back to the Middle Ages, when it was a castle disputed between Lucca, Pisa and Florence. The village is now uninhabited and has been listed in the FAI, census of Italian places to be saved.
There is a deconsecrated 11th-century church dedicated to St. John the Baptist. It is located in an area of considerable landscape interest, between Palaia and Volterra, between the gentle green hills and the rugged sandy gullies that end with the Balze around Volterra. Toiano offers the opportunity of a beautiful historical-naturalistic route, in an unknown area of Tuscany, in a rural context rich in history and also in mystery.
In fact, the village is sadly remembered for the murder in 1947 of Elvira Orlandini, known as “the bella Elvira”, a young 20-year-old girl who was barbarously killed in the woods and whose killing triggered a media case in post-war Italy. The village was also talked about years ago thanks to the photographer Oliviero Toscani, who dedicated a photographic competition to it.
Of ancient origins, it derives its name from the Lombard “Sala” (country villa). The Florentine Ricciardi family owned the estate in the 16th-17th centuries. It is an example of a completely self-sufficient villa farm. The main square is overlooked by the 17th-century manor house and the tower with the clock, with a painting of the Ricciardi coat of arms (shield with key) next to it.
Today Villa Saletta is completely uninhabited, but it comes alive in summer with the popular theatre festival that stages shows with Tuscan artists. It has been chosen as a location for films such as Io e Napoleone by Virzì and La notte di San Lorenzo by the Taviani brothers.