Poggibonsi, in the heart of Valdichiana, is one of the classic Tuscan dream places, rich in culture, art and tradition. It easily captivates visitors with its ancient buildings and beautiful landscape. The striking towers of San Gimignano and the medieval walled town of Monteriggioni, mentioned by Dante in his Divina Commedia, are just a few minutes’ drive away.
The historical centre includes the ancient Borgo Marturi, an important staging post on the Via Francigena in the 12th century. After Florentine troops had destroyed Poggibonsi’s castle in 1115, the inhabitants had to move to the village below, called "Poggio Bonizio", which gave us the present name of Poggibonsi – itself razed to the ground in 1270.
In the 16th century the village was ruled by the Florentines, whose army had previously shattered the town’s fortifications and boundary walls. Lorenzo de Medici, 1469-1492, il Magnifico, built the Grande Fortezza di Poggio Imperiale, leading to a long period of peace and stability. Unfortunately, in the early 20th century Poggibonsi was badly damaged by World War II bombing. Nonetheless, by the end of the 1900s it had become an important industrial and commercial centre of the Val d’Elsa, mainly due to furniture manufacture and the important olive oil and wine trade.
What You Should See
- The Church of St Lorenzo, where Charles VIII of France and Girolamo Savonarola met to discuss the future of Florence.
- The Sanctuary of Romituzzo, with the splendid Madonna della Neve - Our Lady of the Snow, by an unknown artist dating to 1300.
- Palazzo Pretorio, which housed the Town Hall after the destruction of Poggio Bonizio in 1270; in use until the new Palazzo Comunale was built in 1862.
- Collegiata Church of St Maria Assunta, built above the Romanesque parish Church of St Maria di Borgo Marturi, with the great "Resurrezione" by Botticini, and the wooden statue of St Gregorio.
- Poggio Imperiale, where the new village of Poggio Bonizio began in 1155
- The Medicean Fortress, built in early 1599 on the orders of Lorenzo di Medici. The project was left unfinished, apart from the pentagonal Cassero (quarterdeck), which overlooks the surrounding hills.
- You can also see the Parco Archeologico e Tecnologico di Poggio Imperiale and explore different phases of the town’s settlement and see artifacts discovered by the archeologists.
In the surrounding area, you'll find other interesting sights -
La Fonte delle Fate, a large fountain in rare Sienese travertine marble with six double-pointed arches, It was designed and constructed by Balugano da Crema in the Sienese style in about the 13th century.
The Magione di San Giovanni al Ponte, a small but marvellous complex that had served as a hospital and pilgrims lodging run by the Order of the Knights of the Temple, that includes a church, guest rooms and complementary services. This is a rare example of preservation of the medieval artistic heritage.
The Castle of Strozzavolpe, accessible via a drawbridge which retains its original structure, including the imposing, irregular boundary walls.
The Staggia Senese, an important 10th century noble residence which in 1994 celebrated 1,000 years of its existence.
St Pietro a Cedda, the most interesting Romanesque complex of the Val d’Elsa, with a unique nave.
The monastic complex of St Lucchese, preserving works by Bartolo di Fredi, Cennino Cennini and Memmo di Filippuccio.
Been there? Done that? Share your experience and tips!
Haven't visited yet? Have questions about Poggibonsi? Ask them here!
Explore nearby towns
The medieval town of Colle di Val d'Elsa is set like a jewel on top of a high and evocative hillock, whose narrow valleys divide into three parts the fabric of the town.
Staggia Senese is a quaint Tuscan town presided over by its castle, just ten minutes from Siena.
Barberino Val d'Elsa, nearby Florence, is an ancient medieval village built as a consequence of the destruction of Semifonte, an old and glorious town in the same area.