The castle of Tignano near Barberino Val d’Elsa
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The ancient village of Tignano in Tuscany

In Chianti, between Florence and Siena, there is a myriad of villages and ancient castles ideal for taking the classic Sunday outing. One of these is the small Castle of Tignano which is located a stone’s throw from Barberino Val d’Elsa.

The ancient village of Tignano rises on a low hill immersed in the typical Tuscan landscape among expanses of olive trees and vineyards. Tignano is considered one of the best examples of a medieval fortified village in the area. The surrounding area has returned numerous archaeological finds from the Etruscan era but the first certain information about Tignano dates back to around the year 1000.

In the 12th century the powerful family of the Alberti counts transformed the Tignano hill into a small stronghold. This fortification was necessary because the area at that time was at the center of the dispute between the two emerging regional powers: Florence and Siena. In fact, with the construction of the castle, the Alberti family guaranteed a safe landing for the local populations in the event of military incursions by one of the two great rivals. A century later, the whole area became part of the Republic of Florence and Tignano was no exception.

Visit to the castle of Tignano

The castle of Tignano preserves intact its original circular shape which substantially follows the course of the hill. The structure of the small village is common to that of many other fortified villages that develop around a central square. The walls of the castle correspond with the external walls of the houses that overlook the square. Access to the village is through a simple arched door decorated with a heraldic coat of arms, which probably belonged to a captain of fortune. Right next to the door stands a tower which had the function of a keep.

Upon entering the village, on the right we find a picturesque cistern, made of river pebbles, which once guaranteed the supply of water. Just behind the well is the fourteenth-century Palazzo dei Begliuomini. Another noteworthy building is the Church of San Romolo.

Although small, Tignano is a truly delightful hamlet with its stone houses and herringbone brick floor. If you are planning a trip to the area, you might want to consider it.

Tignano in Tuscany
Tignano in Tuscany (Photo by Niccolo Rigacci / CC BY)

Tignano Festival

For over 30 years Tignano has been the scene of an interesting music and theater festival which places the major social and environmental issues at the center of attention. The Tignano Festival was inaugurated in 1988 and over the years has brought to the small castle many artists and intellectuals who have faced the great problems of our time. The 2021 edition, for example, focused above all on environmental protection, a theme that by now cannot leave us indifferent.

How to get to Tignano

Tignano is located less than 2 kilometers from Tavarnelle Val d’Elsa and can be reached via the Firenze-Siena highway, Tavarnelle exit.
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