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San Casciano in Val di Pesa

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Inhabitants in 1991: 16.012

The municipal territory of San Casciano extends for 107,98 square kilometres on that series of heights which divide the Val di Pesa from the Val di Greve. Ancient Medieval Podesta Office, it became seat of community in 1774, reaching its present day aspect in 1865 when the district of Romola, detached from the suppressed municipality of Casellina e Torri, was aggregated to it.

Arisen as a staging post on the Via Cassia in the Roman era, until the second half of the XIII century San Casciano belonged in Lordship to the Bishops of Firenze, who sent them a vicar with the title of Podesta and who in 1241 decreed the first statutes of the castle. It passed directly under the jurisdiction of the Fiorentino municipality in 1272, the well populated town was general quarters of the troops of Arrigo VII in 1312-13, and in 1326 Castruccio Castracani put it to "sword and fire".

The strategic importance that San Casciano held convinced the Fiorentino Lord Gualtieri di Brienne to fortify it in 1343, in fact to design a completely new foundation (the new armed castle would have taken the name of Ducal Castle in his honour), but his expulsion from Firenze soon brought a halt to the business; only in 1355, after the Adventurer Captain Fra' Moriale had again occupied it in the previous year, and the ransom of that land had cost Firenze 28,000 gold florins, was the town belted with imposing walls as is described in great detail by Matteo Villani, who notes also its cost of 35,000 florins. In 1552 Cosimo I reinforced the wall in prevision of the war for the conquest of Siena and donated an aqueduct to San Casciano; once having conquered Siena the military importance of the castle had declined and in the XVII century the Grand Duke Ferdinando II even donated the Keep to his courtier Fancesco Lucardesi. In the neighbourhood of San Casciano, at Percussina, arose the "Albergaccio" rustic property of Niccolò Machiavelli where in 1513 the secretary of the Fiorentina republic, having fallen into disgrace, retired in meditation and composed Il Principe (The Prince).

Places to visit:
S. Cecilia a Decimo, already cited in a donation by Carlo Magno, hosts works of art from various eras.
Church of the Misericordia, built in 1355 by the Domenicani of S.Maria Novella from Firenze. Museum of the Misericordia, adjacent to the church hosts a rich collection of works of art.

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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