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Tavarnelle Val di Pesa

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Inhabitants in 1991: 6.911

The municipal territory of Tavarnelle extends for 56,98 square kilometres in a hilly area, on the high plain which divides the Val di Pesa from the Val d'Elsa. The origins of the municipality are recent being constituted in 1892 with the districts of Tavarnelle Sambuca and San Donato in Poggio which had been detached from the municipality of Barberino Val d'Elsa. From 1909 the new denomination of the municipality is Tavarnelle Val di Pesa (anter. Tavarnelle).

The capital took its name from Tabernulae, that is from the ancient taverns which were posted along the Via Cassia for those who undertook the journey from Firenze to Siena. On the territory during the Medieval period certain grand families were Lords, the Albero and the Buodelmonti, it came under the dominion of Firenze in the first half of the XIII century, Firenze did not judge it necessary to wall the village being able to count on the neighbouring castles of San Donato and Barberino for the defensive system of the area.

The development and importance of Tavarnelle however is recent: more important for its history are surely the districts of San Donato and the Abbey of Passignano, San Donato in Poggio still today surrounded by walls, was twice the Seat in 1176 and 1255 of the peace treaty stipulations between Firenze and Siena and in 1260 the Fiorentino army reunited at their parish church to prepare for the battle of Montaperti; it was capital of the community until 1774. The Abbey of Passignano arose on land which had been an Etruscan and Roman settlement according to the legend it was founded by San Zanobi in 395; but keeping to history it is said that it became Vallombrosana from the X century, was one of the preferred residences of San Giovanni Gualberto, who died there in 1073. In 1485 the monastery, rich with assets and privileges was occupied by the military of Lorenzo il Magnifico who had taken command for his son Giovanni, exiling the monarchs. Giovanni became Pope Leone X, and gave it back to the Vallombrosani in 1499 and it remained so until 1810 when with the Napoleonic reform the convent was suppressed and the property sold privately.

Places to visit:
S. Lucia al Borghetto, ex francescano convent from 1200. The single nave church is an important example of Gothic architecture in the territory even though it has suffered several modifications during the centuries. There are important works of art in the interior.

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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