THINGS TO DISCOVER
Olive Oil • Around Easter, not to miss the traditional gastronomic feast of the “crogiantina”, the tasty toasted bread with garlic and extra virgin olive oil accompanied by sweet fritters, grilled meats, local dishes, and Montescudaio DOC wines.
THINGS TO KNOW:
1000 Nativity sets • Guardistallo is the village of a thousand nativity scenes and cribs, set up in the village by the locals using terracotta, cardboard, plastic, or unusual materials such as curlers, bread, and stones. Families display the nativity sets on the windowsills or balconies of their homes while the Municipality displays them in the main square with a huge Christmas tree.
According to the findings preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Florence, the first settlement of Guardistallo dates back to the Neolithic. If the presence of an Etruscan settlement is probably uncertain, that of a Longobard one is clearly stressed by the root from the German Wardan (guard) and Stall (place).
Between destructions and reconstructions
After being subjected to the rule of the Pisa Republic under the Della Gherardesca family, the village ended up under Florence. In 1447 the troops of the king of Naples, Alfonso of Aragon, destroyed houses and palaces. That was not the only devastation that struck Guardistallo, as the violent earthquake that in 1846 destroyed most of the houses and the castle itself.
The reconstruction saw the birth of the small but charming Marchionneschi Theater, (renamed Little Paris) wanted by the most influential local family to testify their wealth. Later, another tragedy struck Guardistallo in 1944 when the Nazi army killed 63 civilians in response to partisan actions.
Oasis of peace and flavors
In the surrounding area, definitely worth a visit is the Monastery of Nostra Signora di Valserena, belonging to the nuns of the Cistercian order, who for years have been producing and selling cosmetics based on olive oil grown in the fields of the convent.
Due to its location and pleasant climate, Guardistallo is a sought-after vacation spot, from which it is easy to reach the coast and the main cities of art like Pisa or Volterra.
The surrounding countryside is full of olive groves that produce a precious extra virgin olive oil extracted from Lazzare olives, celebrated every spring with the Crogiantina festival (another name for the bruschetta). Another traditional appointment is in October with the polenta festival, since Guardistallo is a member of the “Italian National Polenta Association”.