Buti, an ancient village on the slopes of the Pisan Mountains
Buti is a small town in the province of Pisa located in a beautiful position between the Pisan Mountains. The village has an ancient origin, almost certainly Roman, even if the first certain documents date back to the Middle Ages. Specifically, there is a testimony from the year 841 that documents the existence of one of its churches. The first document that mentions the toponym Buiti, on the other hand, dates back to 1068 when eight castles stood on the surrounding hills around the village. The origin of the name is Latin and derives from the term bucita, which means “pasture of oxen”.
We were talking about castles, a large number of fortifications as documented in Buti can only suggest that this place had a considerable strategic importance. In fact, both the position and the resources available to Buti have long been tempting many. The area was very rich in water and here there were numerous oil mills, water mills and a flourishing agriculture with a considerable production of oil. In addition to these resources, Buti has also been able to develop a valid artisan production, especially since the nineteenth century. Traditional activities are still carried on today in Buti and the village is part of the “Strada dell’Olio: Monti Pisani”.
Due to its strategic importance, Buti found himself involved in the centuries-old wars between Florence, Lucca and Pisa with devastating consequences. The village was in fact destroyed and rebuilt several times and only a part of the castles that once were there remain.
Today Buti is a small town with about 5500 inhabitants that is appreciated for its craftsmanship, its artistic heritage, also enriched by a Medici Villa, a solid gastronomic tradition and a valid naturalistic context. On the surrounding hills there are numerous opportunities to immerse yourself in nature by following one of the many existing paths.
What to see in Buti
Pieve di San Giovanni Battista
The Pieve di San Giovanni Battista is the main church of the village. Documented well before the year 1000. The title of parish dates back to at least the 13th century, so we can say that this church has been of some importance for a long time. The current appearance betrays a complete makeover of the building that took place over the centuries. The last renovation dates back to the early twentieth century when the church was enlarged and modified. The bell tower, on the other hand, was obtained from a medieval tower, also remodeled with the insertion of a particular dome on the top. Inside there is a wooden sculpture, the so-called Madonna del Monte, which dates back to 1369. The frescoes are instead by Pietro Giarrè, a Florentine painter of the eighteenth century.
Church of San Francesco
The Church of San Francesco dates back to a period between the 13th and 14th centuries. Also this church, like the parish church, has undergone considerable but all in all more limited changes. On the outside it has a simple gabled façade characterized by solid stone blocks and a single portal with a lunette surmounted by a mullioned window placed at the top. On its right stands the high bell tower, in which there is a series of three mullioned windows framed by bricks. The interior reflects the renovations that took place between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The church preserves some eighteenth-century paintings: a Madonna and Child with saints from the Pisan school and four ovals with Saints Gaetano, Francesca Romana, Giuseppe and Andrea by Jacopo Danielli.
The upper part of the village corresponds to the heart of the historic core. Here stands the Tonini Castle which still today overlooks Buti from above. Access to the castle is through a large arched door which corresponds to the ancient gateway to the town. On its right you can see the fort, with the typical battlements, to which gothic style mullioned windows have been added over time. Unfortunately, the walls that once surrounded the castle are no longer there and the castle is not in good condition either. Along the streets of the castle you will come across some palaces dating back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including the Medici Villa of Buti, and the Church of San Rocco.
The Medici Villa of Buti was built in the 16th century starting from a wing of the ancient medieval castle. Originally it consisted of a tower and a house that was used to house the Florentine captains, then over time it was enlarged and transformed into a noble palace. The villa consisted of the main building, the stables and a church; it also had a vegetable garden and a magnificent garden. In the second half of the eighteenth century it was bought by Santi Banti who spared no expense to enrich the house with the frescoes of the Giarrè.
The complex is spread over four floors: the cellar, the ground floor, the main floor and the attic. Each floor, with the exception of the attic, corresponds to a level of the garden that proceeds on terraces and is adorned with statues, fountains and well-kept flower beds. Also used for events and ceremonies, in 2006 the villa hosted the set of the film Napoleon and Me, directed by Paolo Virzì.
Activities in nature
One of the reasons to visit Buti is the opportunity to practice some sports and outdoor activities in contact with nature. It is a very popular location for cyclists and offers many opportunities even to those who want to take a nice walk. Here you can go trekking and Nordic walking or go horseback riding following one of the many itineraries available. The ideal is to always be accompanied by an environmental guide who will be able to offer many interesting ideas and information on the village and its surroundings. Finally, the bravest can try their hand at the route of the Ferrata di Sant’Antone which develops among the rocks of Monte Serra.
Palio di buti
Throughout the year, Buti hosts various manifestations, festivals and events of various kinds. The most important is probably the Palio delle Contrade, which takes place in January. Together with the Palio di Siena and the Palio di Asti, it is one of the three oldest palios in all of Italy. The seven districts of the village participate in the race and compete in a horse race along the main road. In addition to the race, the event includes the parade of a historical procession.