Guide to visit San Casciano in Chianti
San Casciano Val di Pesa is a typical Tuscan medieval village, located in the northernmost area of the Chianti Classico area, about fifteen kilometers from Florence. The center is located in a beautiful hilly area inhabited since Etruscan times as evidenced by the discovery of the so-called Tomb of the Archer in Montefiridolfi and the excavations of Poggio La Croce. The area continued to be inhabited even in Roman times and during the Middle Ages the village was a fief of the Florentine bishops until the 12th century when it was annexed to the Florentine Republic. Given its strategic importance, San Casciano was endowed with imposing defensive structures and elected capital of a League and then of a Podesteria.
Despite the devastation suffered during the Second World War, the city still preserves several monuments and traces of its walls; in the surrounding area you can also admire a myriad of churches, villas and castles that have flourished over the centuries, leaving a very important imprint in the surrounding landscape. This enormous cultural and artistic heritage, combined with the Chianti wine and food tradition, makes San Casciano a destination of sure interest for those looking for an alternative destination to the great Tuscan cities of art.
Things to do in San Casciano Val di Pesa
San Casciano is a very interesting center that deserves to be visited far and wide; among the main things to see there are definitely the Museo Giuliano Ghelli, the CCollegiata di San Cassiano and the Torre del Chianti which offers an amazing panoramic view.
Museo Giuliano Ghelli
The Giuliano Ghelli Museum is located inside the church and convent of Santa Maria del Gesù in Via Lucardesi. Inaugurated in 2009, this museum is composed of an archaeological section and a section of sacred art and represents an essential step of the visit to San Casciano. Art lovers will have a very pleasant surprise when they visit this museum: here there are many works of great value including a Madonna with Child by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, a Saint Michael the Archangel and stories of his legend attributed to Coppo di Marcovaldo and a Coronation of the Virgin by Neri di Bicci. The archaeological section is also very interesting: here you can admire the Etruscan Stele dell’Arciere which was found inside the Tomb of the Archer.
1 April – 15 October: Monday-Tuesday 10am-1pm; Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday, 10am-1pm, 4pm-7pm
October 16th – March 31st: Monday, 10am-1pm; Friday, 15-18; Saturday-Sunday,10am-1pm, 3pm-6pm
Collegiata di San Cassiano
Built between 1793 and 1794 instead of a previous medieval church, the Collegiata di San Cassiano has neoclassical forms and has a façade characterized by pilasters and cornices that divide the facade into well-defined spaces. The interior, with five naves, preserves several works of art including the wooden Crucifix attributed to Baccio da Montelupo, the fresco Glory of San Cassiano by Luigi Pistocchi and a Circumcision of Jesus by Francesco Curradi.
Chiesa della Misericordia
The small Chiesa della Misericordia, also known as the Church of Santa Maria del Prato, dates back to the early fourteenth century but over the centuries has undergone some interventions that have altered its appearance. Inside you can admire a considerable heritage of works of art among which the Pulpit made by Giovanni di Balduccio (XIV century) and a wonderful Crucifix by Simone Martini.
Torre del Chianti
Born as a water deposit, still present, the Torre del Chianti, or Torre dell’Acqua, is today used above all as a panoramic terrace. From the height of its 33 meters (there is an elevator!) you can enjoy a wide view that ranges from the Sienese countryside to the territories of Florence, Pistoia and Pisa. In addition to this, the tower is also used as a venue for temporary exhibitions and cultural events.
What to see around San Casciano
If the center of San Casciano has interested you, know that the surroundings are no less, indeed… within a few kilometers there are several castles, ancient churches and majestic villas that deserve to be visited one by one.
Pieve di Santa Cecilia in Decimo
Located just outside the town of San Casciano, the Pieve di Santa Cecilia in Decimo is probably the oldest in the area. Because of the restorations of 1728 the church no longer preserves the original Romanesque forms that can only be appreciated in the bell tower, a meager consolation if one considers the antiquity of this church (which exists among other things well before the year 1000). Inside you can see the remains of a fresco by Cenni di Francesco and other works among which the Madonna with Child between Saints Lorenzo and Cecilia, probably by Carlo Portelli (XVI century).
Pieve di San Pancrazio
A valid example of Lombard-inspired Romanesque architecture, the Pieve di San Pancrazio is located in the town of the same name about 7 kilometers from San Casciano. Of the original structure the bell tower and the central apse, which maintains an interesting decoration with arches and pilasters, are the best preserved parts. The interior, with three naves, houses a Madonna del Latte by Cenni di Francesco, a XVI century Nativity and other works including a Crucifixion made by Santi di Tito in 1590.
Also the Pieve di Santo Stefano in Campoli and the lovely Pieve di San Giovanni in Sugana, which is near Cerbaia, deserve to be mentioned.
Castello di Bibbione
Chianti is a land of wines and castles and therefore it could not miss some castle in this review of places to see around San Casciano. The first one we want to talk about is the Castello di Bibbione located in the Montefiridolfi area. Documented since the tenth century, this castle stands in a dominant position over the Val di Pesa and looks like a large compact structure more like a villa than a real castle. The Castello di Bibbione is privately owned and today is used above all as a hotel and venue for weddings and events.
Castello di Gabbiano
Belonged to important Florentine families, such as the Bardi family and the Soderini family, the Castello di Gabbiano was built between the 15th and 16th centuries. The structure is characterized by the presence of 5 imposing towers, 4 of which are cylindrical at the corners and one has a square base on the main façade, which probably constitutes the original core of the complex. Today the castle is home to a winery and is also used as a hotel and restaurant.
Ville nella zona di San Casciano
After talking about parishes and castles, all that remains is to mention a few villas, also because in this area there are really many and of great value. Among the most famous there are Villa Le Corti, of the Corsini princes, located a stone’s throw from San Casciano, the Renaissance Villa I Tattoli, near Cerbaia and the Villa del Cigliano owned by the Antinori family.
How to get to San Casciano val di Pesa
By car: the fastest way to reach San Casciano is via the Florence-Siena motorway junction (San Casciano exit).
By bus: from the central station of Florence, SITA service – BUSITALIA, line 371A (about 40 minutes travel time).