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Barberino Val d'Elsa

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Inhabitants in 1991: 3.542

The territory of Barberino Val d'Elsa extends for 65,88 square kilometres on the hills which separate the valleys della Pesa and dell'Elsa. It originated as Medieval Podesta Office in the XIII century; became Seat of the community in 1774 undergoing many changes to its borders in the course of the centuries, until reaching its present day aspect in 1892, when the districts of Tavernelle, Sambuca and San Donato in Poggio were removed to constitute the new municipality of Tavernelle (becoming Tavarnelle Val di Pesa in 1909).

The first historical mention of the town name of Barberino goes back to 1054, but the community draws its official origins from the destruction of the nearby Semifonte (1202), when the Fiorentina republic deemed it opportune to set up and maintain this castle in an area for the most part dominated by powerful and rebellious feudal lineages, first among these were the Alberti Counts. the strategic aim of this settlement is still documented by the presence of walls (end XIII - beginning XIV centuries) with the two gates at the extremes of the village, which was once crossed by the Via Romana (the present day Via Cassia which hugs it on the eastern side).

A small "spedale dei pellegrini" (Pilgrims Hospital) built in 1365, testifies to the importance of the town as an ancient stop over point, half way between Firenze and Siena. In 1313, after the castle had been occupied by Arrigo VII, the Fiorentino government organised the unification of the two distinct administrations of San Donato in Poggio and Barberino allocating to the latter a residence of a rector dependent on the Fiorentino Podesta; Barberino was than declared capital of the Podesta Office, in the first place under the Vicariate of Certaldo, then under that of Colle. Among its illustrious sons are remembered Francesco di Neri Poet and Jurisconsul who died in 1348. In the surrounds of the capital there are areas of notable historic importance such as Marcialla (Market of the Castle of Pogna destroyed by the Fiorentini in 1184) and the castles of Tignano, Lipari and Vico d'Elsa.

Places to visit:
Palazzo Pretorio, placed in the central square it exhibits coats of arms from the XV century and after on its facade.
Spedale dei Pelligrini, 1300s building hosting the Community Library
S. Bartolomeo, church in neo-Gothic style by Giuseppe Castellucci.

Historical info reproduced upon authorization of Regione Toscana - Dipartimento della Presidenza E Affari Legislativi e Giuridici
Picture by Sandro Santioli
Translated by Ann Mountford

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