Lari in the province of Pisa
Lari is one of the most beautiful and interesting villages to visit in the province of Pisa. Historical capital of the Valdera, today it is part of the municipality of Casciana Terme and Lari which has just over 12,000 inhabitants. The historic center is located in a pleasant hilly area at an altitude of 130 meters above sea level. Over the years this village has garnered numerous acclaim and has also been included in the restricted circle of the Bandiere Arancioni of the Italian Touring Club, a fair recognition of the beauty of the place and the tourist offer expressed by Lari and nearby Casciana Terme.
In ancient times, here there was an Etruscan center located on the road that connected Volterra and Pisa. The name Lari derives from the term of Etruscan-Roman origin “lar“. The Lares in the Roman religion were deities who watched over the house, family and activities. The center was inhabited throughout the Roman period and also in the Lombard period when it was fortified.
During the Middle Ages it was long disputed between Lucca, Pisa and Florence. Having become a stronghold of the Republic of Pisa, in the 13th century it fell into the hands of the Upezzinghi family. In 1406, shortly after the capture of Pisa, Florence also managed to take possession of Lari and made it the capital of the Pisan Hills, establishing a vicar here. In the following centuries, it followed the fate of Florence and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, with the exception of a short period between the end of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth century when it returned to be part of the Republic of Pisa.
Over time, Lari has been able to build an economy based on trade and agriculture. The product of excellence of this land is the cherry of Lari which is celebrated every year with a festival that takes place between May and June.
What to do in Lari
Lari is a village to be discovered, rich in history and beautiful things to see. The main point of interest is the majestic Castello dei Vicari which dominates the center of the town. To visit there are also the Porta Maremmana, the Logge del Mercato, the Palazzo della Cancelleria and some churches including the Propositura.
Castello dei Vicari
The Castello dei Vicari di Lari is one of the best examples of a medieval-Renaissance castle in the entire province of Pisa. Among the various castles in the area it is also one of the best preserved. Located right in the center of the village of Lari, the castle of the Vicars is now owned by the municipality and is home to an interesting museum of art and archeology named after Filippo Baldinucci, an art historian and governor of Lari in the seventeenth century.
The first version of the Lari castle dates back to the Lombard period. During the Middle Ages, between 1230 and 1287, the castle was rebuilt by the Upezzinghi, while the transformation into a Renaissance fortress dates back to the sixteenth century.
Over time the castle has been the seat of the Vicar, the Chancellery, the Court and the prison. In recent years, when Lari discovered its tourist vocation, its rooms have been converted and used for exhibitions, events and weddings.
Propositura di San Leonardo e Santa Maria Assunta
Documented since the 10th century, the Propositura di San Leonardo and Santa Maria Assunta has been extended and restructured several times until it reached its current neo-Gothic appearance with the works of the early twentieth century. Inside are preserved various canvases made between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries and a terracotta, Madonna and Child, by Giovanni della Robbia coming from the Chapel of the Vicars of the Castle.
Logge del Mercato
On the right of the church there is a small square with the Logge del Mercato in the background. The lodges were built between 1559 and 1565 and since then they have almost continuously hosted the weekly market that takes place in Lari. The building overlooking the Logge del Mercato dates back to the Fascist era.
Oratorio della Madonna della Neve
The Oratorio della Madonna della Neve is located outside the historic center of Lari but can also be easily reached on foot. Built in 1634 in place of a previous place of worship, this small oratory is appreciated for its elegance and refinement. The façade is clearly of classical inspiration with a tympanum supported by columns and pillars that delimit the space of the pronaos. Inside, the scene takes off from the beautiful Baroque marble altar on which the detached fresco with the Madonna and Child was placed.
Oratorio della Madonna del Carmine
The Oratorio della Madonna del Carminee is also located outside the town but is located on the opposite side from the previous oratory. Like the other, this oratory also dates back to the seventeenth century and is in Baroque style with a face that harks back to classical architecture. In this case, you can appreciate a beautiful portico with columns surmounted by Ionic-style capitals and the inevitable triangular pediment.
What to see in the surroundings of Lari
In the immediate vicinity of Lari there are Casciana Alta to visit with the Church of San Niccolò and the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Cava and Casciana Terme which is a rather renowned spa town. Several other monuments and points of interest are scattered throughout the municipal area, among these I will limit myself to mentioning the Castello di Gello Mattaccino and the Chiesa di San Martin del Colle.
How to get to Lari
Lari is located about 30 kilometers from Pisa, 65 from Florence, 90 km from Siena, 30 from Livorno and the coast.
It does not have a railway station and the most convenient to use is that of Pontedera. From there buses leave regularly that allow you to reach Lari in about 40 minutes.
By car, both from Florence and Pisa you will have to take the FI-PI-LI highway to the Ponsacco exit and then follow the signs for about ten kilometers. Even those coming from Livorno must take the FI-PI-LI but in this case the exit is that of Lavoria.