Staggia Senese and its medieval castle
Staggia Senese is a small village with a remarkable medieval castle and defensive walls. The town is part of the municipality of Poggibonsi, in the province of Siena, from which it is just 5 kilometers away.
Staggia appears in a document for the first time in 994 when the village and its fortress were part of a feud of the Soarzi family. Just when the Soarzi met their decline, Staggia began to prosper thanks to the development of the Via Francigena, one of the main communication arteries of the Middle Ages.
In 1295, a new feudal family, that of the Franzesi, took over the castle to which other possessions were added between Florence and Siena. Precisely because of this position, halfway between the two large cities, the castle of Staggia found itself involved in some war events and was also the place where in 1360 a peace treaty was signed between Florence and Siena.
A year later, in 1361, the commercial activities of the Franzese family went bankrupt and the castle was purchased by the Florentine Republic. The castle thus became an important outpost of the Florentine Republic on the border with its sworn enemy, Siena.
Between 1372 and 1431, various works were carried out to improve the fortifications of the castle and of the town; some of these works can be attributed to the great architect Filippo Brunelleschi.
What to see in Staggia Senese
Still well protected by its defensive walls, the village of Staggia Senese has the most important monument in its fortress. To this is added the church of Santa Maria Assunta and its museum of sacred art.
Before talking about the castle, it is also appropriate to say a few words about the walls of Staggia. Really well preserved, the walls still have 2 out of 3 city gates that it had in the past. Those preserved are the gate facing Florence and the one to the north-east, called Porta Lecchi, while the Porta Romana no longer exists because it was destroyed in 1944 by the retreating Germans. In addition to the gates, there are also a number of towers along the walls and in the past there were even more.
Castle of Staggia Senese
The castle has an irregular quadrilateral plan. At the center of the complex we find a high tower with a square base, the keep built by the Franzese, while along the walls there are two mighty cylindrical towers that date back to the fifteenth century.
After a long period of neglect, in the 2000s the castle was finally restored to its former glory. Today the Rocca di Staggia Foundation takes care of keeping it open and making it open to visitors all year round.
Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta
Documented since 994, the church of Santa Maria Assunta in Staggia Senese has unfortunately been heavily remodeled, to say the least, by a series of interventions carried out during the 20th century. These interventions have heavily compromised its medieval appearance. In any case it is worth visiting this church also for the presence of the annexed collection of sacred art.
Museo Pala del Pollaiolo
The Staggia Senese collection of sacred art takes its name from the altarpiece created by Antonio del Pollaiolo, Magdalene communicated by the Angels (15th century) which is exhibited here.
Also noteworthy are the fifteenth-century Adoration of the Magi by Francesco Botticini, a Madonna and Child from the Sienese school (mid-fourteenth century), the Visitation by Francesco Maria Butteri (1574) and Christ in piety by Arcangelo Salimbeni (1579).
What to see near Staggia
Staggia is located in Val d’Elsa, an area full of beautiful medieval villages that deserve to be visited from the first to the last. Among the most interesting are Colle di Val d’Elsa, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni and Certaldo. Also not to be overlooked is the spa town of Gambassi Terme which is about 30 kilometers away.
How to get to Staggia Senese
Staggia Senese does not have a train station but the closest one is in Poggibonsi where you can take a bus to reach the town in a few minutes.
By car it is much easier to get to Staggia Senese. Whether from Florence or Siena, you will have to take the Firenze-Siena highway to the Colle Val D’Elsa Sud exit and continue in the direction of Staggia for about three kilometres.