Brief guide of Colle val d'Elsa

Colle val d'Elsa, Tuscany, Italy

Brief Guides of:

Chianti area
Colle val d'Elsa
Massa Marittima
Monte Oliveto
San Galgano
San Gimignano

The web site of Graziella Battigalli: the famous Italian painter
Graziella Battigalli

Along the road to Chianti...

Colle val d'Elsa is a densely populated and ancient town centre which was first dominated by the Bishops, then formed part of a feud by the Aldobrandini family and, from 1333, it fell into the possession of the Florentines.

Right from the Middle-Ages, Colle val d'Elsa was famous and flourished thanks to her wool and paper industries. From the l5th century onwards, it became an important centre for the printing industry and the manufacture of glass bottles.

All these activities utilized the water energy source supplied by the river Elsa and exploited by way of a channel system still in existence today. Like the other valley centres, Colle val d'Elsa, too, appears divided into two suburbs: Upper Colle val d'Elsa which has old medieval origins and was known as Castelvecchio and Lower Colle val d'Elsa, which has been enlarged by industries, shops, trading companies and residential areas.

The ancient Upper Colle val d'Elsa preserves 14th and l6th century walls and buildings, old gates and very suggestive medieval glimpses. We refer to the l6th century Campana Building and the daring arch that joins the St. Catherine Borough with the Castle; the Via del Castello area is rich in old houses, towers and residences of the l5th and l6th century; the Duomo, constructed in 1600 over a former Romanesque church, and the Pretorio Building dated 1355.


In Upper Colle, one can visit the ancient tower-house, the birthplace of Arnolfo di Cambio who was a famous painter and sculptor and who died in Florence in the year 1302. The huge square bordered by porches, is dedicated to him. This square forms the centre of the town life at Lower Colle val d'Elsa of the Plain, and here we can find the beautiful Gothic church of St. Augu- stine, with its l3th century facade. The interior has undergone a Renaissance-type transformation carried out according to the designs by Antonio da Sangallo.

Preserved here are a Madonna by Taddeo di Bartolo, a panel by Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, a Deposition by Cigoli and a tabernacle attributed to Baccio da Montelupo.

Today, Lower Colle possesses a lovely, moden swimming pool, called " Olympia ", and a beautiful park thus making it the haunt of many tourists and a sports centre for swimmers.

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