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Description

The history of the Lower Valdarno is full of events, battles that artists and writers have mentioned in their works. Boccaccio, impressed by Montopoli Castle’s mighty fortifications, described it as “insigne” (renowned, illustrius) and its importance was recognized by Pisa as well as Lucca and Florence, who fought many bitter battles for it, until 1349 when the population decided to accept Florentine rule. This area was the scene of the famous battle of San Romano, immortalized by Paolo Uccello in three paintings currently held in the Uffizi, the Louvre and the National Gallery in London. Montopoli received attention from the condottiere Castruccio Castracani, as evidenced by the arch that bears his name. In the sixteenth century, important religious and secular buildings were constructed there, for example the Church of the Madonna del Soccorso, the Oratory of San Sebastiano and the Conservatory of Santa Marta. This countryside was dealt a hard blow by the plague but, thanks to the House of Lorraine, Montopoli flourished. With the quiet and the waters, for centuries Montopoli attracted important families who built their summer residences there. Today, the Palazzo Guicciardini Civic Museum handles protection of the territory’s considerable artistic wealth.
The hills around Montopoli in Valdarno offer pleasant views and a treasure known for its therapeutic properties: the mineral water of the Sorgente Tesorino.



Information
Pro Loco
c/o Museo Civico Guicciardini
via Guicciardini, 55
56020 Montopoli in Val d’Arno
t. +39 0571 449024
www.comune.montopoli.pi.it

 

Geographical area
Valdarno Inferiore

Population
over 11.000

Distance from Pisa
34 km

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Culture

Castruccio Castracani arch
The arch was part of the castle, along with the adjacent thirteenth-century Tower of San Martino and the Tower of San Matteo, which were destroyed when Montopoli ceased to function as a military outpost. The arch came to be associated with Castruccio Castracani because it is said that he was wounded at that spot during the siege of Montopoli.

Church of the Madonna del Soccorso and San Marco
This church, with its single nave, fronted by a graceful, five-arch portico, was built in 1606 by the Confraternita del Soccorso. Worthy of note is a sixteenth century fresco on the high altar, depicting the Madonna and Child between Saint Sebastiano and Saint Verdiana. It was painted by an unknown artist and its quality is purely devotional.

Conservatory of Santa Marta
Built as a Benedictine monastery by Simone di Sebastiano Gamucci, the conservatory houses numerous works of art. Construction began in 1590 and continued until 1697, when the church was consecrated. The church has three altars in pietra serena. Two feature paintings of the Madonna and Child, while the main altar supports an important painting of the Resurrection of Lazarus by Ludovico Cardi, also known as Cigoli, one of the major players in late-sixteenth-century Florence. In an adjacent room is a beautiful panel by Lorenzo Monaco, an epigone of Giotto’s painting tradition, with a Madonna and Child datable to the end of the fourteenth century.

Palazzo Guicciardini Civic Museum
The museum is divided into four sections. One section is dedicated to paleontology; another is archaeological and features important Etruscan and Roman artefacts. A “memories of the territory” section focuses on the remains of the Rocca di Montopoli and, finally, there is a section on Dante Milani ceramics.

Oratory of San Sebastiano
The Oratory of San Sebastiano has undergone several transformations since its construction in 1506. From 1640 onward it belonged to the members of the Congregazione della Morte, who took care of the cemetery, where plague victims were buried. Currently, the Oratory houses numerous sepulchral slabs and is also used for cultural events.

Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Romano
It began as part of the church of Santa Maria in Valiana. An image of the Madonna carved from an oak tree trunk was kept there, and in the sixteenth century, the devotion aimed at this object grew so much that the church was enlarged to accommodate the faithful. The interior has a single nave and is flanked by chapels. The apse and the roof were destroyed by the war and are from the modern age. The chapel of the Madonna has a solemn neoclassical structure distinguished by the refined white stucco. A small temple houses the sacred image of the Madonna di San Romano. To the right of the cloister, adjacent to the Sacristy, are some of the Convent’s rooms that have become the “museum”, open on Sundays and public holidays.

Tower of San Matteo
This tower, built at the behest of historian and politician Neri Capponi in 1431, offers a wonderful view of the Arno Valley from the Monti Pisani to the Apuan Alps and the Apennines.

Villa Capponi Piaggio
Originally owned by the Capponi family, it was later bought by the entrepreneur Enrico Piaggio. It is located inside the park of the Varramista estate, not far from Montopoli, and was the location for the wedding of Enrico Piaggio’s adoptive daughter Antonella to Umberto Agnelli.

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Food and wine

Water . The Sorgente Tesorino
At Montopoli, in the Valdarno, there is a protected and uncontaminated water source: the Sorgente Tesorino. The water has been bottled since 1941, the year of the founding of the first company to begin the trade.

Wine
The municipality is a stop on the Pisa Hills Wine Trail.

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Crafts

Ceramics
Ceramic work is an ancient tradition here, and one attempting a revival. Through documents, it can be traced back to the sixteenth century. It flourished in the nineteenth century with the work of Dante Milani, who taught generations of craftsmen whose present-day successors run the shops where you can admire and buy the artistic Montopoli terracotta.

The leather district
The shoemaking and tanning industries are the most important business here today.

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Activities for visitors

Anello del Chiecina
A 6.5 km loop route that starts and ends at Podere Chiecina. Walkable.

Anello di Marti e Varramista
A loop measuring 13.2 km by way of the towns of Marti and Varramista. To try on foot, by bike or on horseback.

Anello di Sant’Andrea alla Fornace e della Madonna del Soccorso
A 5.5 km itinerary that runs close to the village of Montopoli and crosses the Rio Cafaggio. Ideal on foot, by bicycle or on horseback.

Old pedestrian path “Sotto i fossi”
A short 800-metre route that crosses Montopoli.

Angelica – Montopoli – Capanne itinerary
A 7 km route that starts from the village of Angelica and goes as far as Capanne, skirting Montopoli.

Visitor’s route
The route is made of six loops, from the shortest at 800 m to the longest at 13.2 km. A medium-easy route to try on foot, by bike or on horseback.

Raccordo Marti – Itinerary 2
This 1.8 km itinerary can also be traveled by bicycle or on horseback. It runs from the village of Marti to the Chiecina loop.

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Camper area