Montespertoli in Tuscany
Montespertoli is a town in the province of Florence which straddles the Val di Pesa and Val d’Elsa. The city is located 20 kilometers from Florence and 30 from San Gimignano in a historically favorable position in the heart of Tuscany. Montespertoli is also located along the historic Via Volterrana which a little further south, near Certaldo, connected to the Via Francigena which in medieval times was one of the main roads in Europe. The surroundings of Montespertoli are characterized by rolling hills where olive trees and vines are grown. This area is part of the Chianti wine production area and in particular here the renowned Chianti Montespertoli is produced.
Thanks above all to the road that connects Florence and Volterra, the area where Montespertoli stands has been inhabited since the Etruscan era, but it is only from the Middle Ages that a significant urban center develops. Over the centuries, numerous Florentine noble families choose this area to build castles and farms. Even today in the surroundings of Montespertoli you can admire some magnificent medieval castles.
What to see in Montespertoli
The reasons to visit Montespertoli are numerous. Montespertoli is considered one of the wine capitals in Tuscany and is also famous for its oil and the excellence of all its agricultural production. The history of the village has bequeathed a rich architectural heritage that absolutely deserves to be known. The location of the town in the heart of Tuscany among the rolling hills of Chianti also makes it a very popular destination for those looking for an agriturismo from which they can organize trips to Florence, Siena, Volterra and San Gimignano. Finally, the food and wine events that are organized throughout the year give liveliness to this small town that you will surely appreciate.
- Chiesa di Sant’Andrea
- Castello Sonnino
- Pieve di San Piero in Mercato
- Museo di Arte Sacra
- Museo della Vite e del Vino
Chiesa di Sant’Andrea
Documented as a chapel of the castle of Montespertoli, the Church of Sant’Andrea has been deeply restored over the centuries and then completely rebuilt after the devastation of the Second World War. The current building is located in Piazza del Machiavelli and is the main place of worship in the city.
Inside the church you can admire a triptych, Madonna and Saints, attributed to the Maestro della Misericordia and Niccolò di Pietro Gerini (around 1380), a wooden Crucifix from the end of the fifteenth century and some tiles from the baptismal font of Santa Maria a Coeli Aula (XII century). The rectory of the church houses a second crucifix in front of which, according to tradition, Saint Verdiana used to pray.
Once known as Castello di Montespertoli, the castle owes its current name to Sidney Sonnino, a well-known Italian politician who lived between the 19th and 20th centuries, who in the past was the owner of the complex. The castle was owned by the Alberti Counts until 1393, that is, until their family died out, and then it passed to the Machiavellis who had numerous possessions in the area. In 1830 it was bought by the Sonnino family who are the current owners of the castle.
A thirteenth-century tower remains of the medieval complex; many of the works of art that were once found in the castle have been distributed among the churches in the area and some of them are in the museum of sacred art.
Pieve di San Piero in Mercato
The Pieve di San Piero in Mercato is a historical place of great importance. Main religious center of the area throughout the Middle Ages, the parish church is documented since 1008, but it is not certain that the foundation is not even older, while its consecration dates back to 1057. Together with the nearby center of Lucardo, the parish constitutes the first nucleus of the city of Montespertoli and in the past it was at the head of a very large parish, about 80 km², inside which there were 26 suffragan churches and a market which gave the toponym “in Mercato” (“mercato” means market).
The church has a façade in faux white and green marble, the result of an early 20th century restoration and the rest of the building was also plastered on that occasion. However, despite this intervention, the church retains its original layout at least as regards the internal structure and the bell tower. The interior, with three naves, preserves a beautiful baptismal font dating back to the 12th or 13th century, which is part of the Florentine Romanesque tradition.
Museo di Arte Sacra
The Museum of Sacred Art of Montespertoli is located inside the rectory of the Pieve di San Piero. The museum itinerary develops following the criterion of the origin of the works.
In the first room there are works from the territory of the Pieve di San Piero in Mercato such as the Madonna and Child Enthroned and the Saints Antonio Abbot and Giuliano martyr by Neri di Bicci, a Madonna and Child attributed to Lippo di Benivieni and a San Girolamo in the desert, glazed terracotta from the workshop of Andrea Della Robbia.
The second room is dedicated to the churches of Santa Maria a Torre and San Bartolomeo a Tresanti. Here there are works dating back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries such as the St. Peter from the workshop of Francesco Curradi and the Adoration of the Magi by Niccolò Bambini.
The third room contains works from the parishes of Coeli in Aula and San Pancrazio. Here you can admire the most important work of the whole museum, the Madonna and Child by Filippo Lippi, and the Virgin and Child between Saints Taddeo and Simone attributed to Bicci di Lorenzo.
Finally, in the last room there are sacred vestments, books, missals and more.
Museo della Vite e del Vino
The Museo della Vite e del Vino di Montespertoli aims not only to illustrate the various stages of production, but also to underline the importance of this ancient tradition. The museum itinerary begins with a space dedicated to the Montespertoli countryside followed by a focus on the sharecropping system. Subsequently, themes relating to vines and their cultivation are also dealt with with the reproduction of a vat and a cellar, two typical areas of winemaking.
In the museum there are also the so-called Laboratorio dei Sensi (Laboratory of the Senses) where you can try your hand at recognizing the flavors and aromas of wine, and a wine shop where you can enjoy a tasting of wine and typical dishes of the Tuscan tradition.
Places to visit around Montespertoli
In the vicinity of Montespertoli there are lots of things to do and places to visit. Speaking of the surroundings of Montespertoli, I cannot but begin by mentioning some castles. In addition to the Castello di Sonnino we have already talked about, there are also the Castello di Poppiano which has been owned by the Guicciardini family since 1200 and the Castello di Montefugoni which has been converted into a residence. The small medieval village of Lucardo and the Convent of the Madonna della Pace which dates back to the 16th century are also worth a visit.
To complete the tour, I also point out the Arte nel Chianti park with installations created by contemporary artists, and the Strada del Vino Chianti di Montespertoli that winds through wonderful hills between medieval villages, castles and cellars where you can enjoy tastings.
Events in Montespertoli
The main event that is organized in Montespertoli is the “Mostra del Chianti” which takes place every year between May and June. The event is the ideal opportunity to have a wine tasting, in particular from the Chianti Montespertoli sub-area, and to taste local specialties. To accompany the tastings there are concerts and parades in historical costumes.
Still on the subject of wine, I point out the “Calici di stelle” in August and the Festa vino e dell’olio nuovo in November.
How to get to Montespertoli
By car: from Florence, you can take the Via Volterrana which arrives directly in Montespertoli in about 40 minutes. Alternatively you can take the Florence-Pisa-Livorno (FI-PI-LI) to the Ginestra Fiorentina exit and then follow in the direction of Montespertoli. Also from Empoli (20 km) you can take the FI-PI-LI to the Ginestra exit and then follow the SP12 and SP80 to your destination.
By bus: at the Central Station of Florence there are SITA bus lines that directly connect the capital to Montespertoli. In Empoli the bus to take is number 32.
The closest railway stations are those of Montelupo Fiorentino, Castelfiorentino, Certaldo and Empoli.