Castiglion Fiorentino

Castiglion Fiorentino is a town with very ancient origins. In the 8th century BC, a village was already present at the top of a hill between Chiana and Chio valleys; after some time, city walls were built to defend the etruscan oppidum (fortified city), and in its centre was built a temple, between the 5th and 4th centuries BC.
The settlement was on the border between the etruscan lucumonies of Arezzo and Cortona and a commercial crossroads even in Roman times, the place was mentioned in documents as “Castiglione” since the 10th century, when it was a fortified feud possessed by the Marchiones. In the second half of the 12th century, the free city was born under the sphere of influence of Arezzo but, after the defeat of the Ghibellines in Campaldino in 1289, it then was under the dominance of Florentines. In 1303, Aretinians seized the castle, renaming it “Castiglion Aretino” (Aretinian castle). In 1336 it was re-conquered by Florence and in 1344 Perugia captured the town, renaming it again in “Castiglion Perugino” (Perugian castle). In 1384 Florence permanently conquered the town, changing its name into “Castiglion Fiorentino” (Florentine castle). In the 16th century were made some attempts of reclaiming the swamp areas southwest from Castiglion Fiorentino, but the real turning point in draining the Valdichiana swamps was in the second half of the 18th century: the hamlets of La Nave, Castroncello, Brolio and Manciano still carry the traces of that challenge.

Castiglion Fiorentino has an important historical, artistic as well as architectural heritage. The main entrances to the city centre are Florentine Gate from north, Roman Gate from south. In Piazza del Municipio stands out the fourteenth-century Palazzo San Michele, the municipal seat, flanked by the Civic Tower. Heading towards the mighty Cassero Tower, you encounter two other medieval buildings: the Clock Tower and the Palazzo Pretorio. On the opposite side of the square stands the Loggia from 1513, which was renovated by Giorgio Vasari between 1560 and 1570. Several years earlier, in 1548, the Aretine artist had painted for the Church of San Francesco a “Madonna with Child and Saints Sylvester, Anne, and Francis.”

Castiglion Fiorentino has a lot of churches to see, some deconsecrated and are now used for different purposes. The church of st. Angelo in the area of the Cassero was built in the 12th century as a chapel for the castle, but it was restored between 1229 and 1239. Also the first traces of the churches of st. Francis and st. Benedetto in Santucce are from the 13th century. In the 14th century the churches of St. Agostino and St. Lazzo were built whereas the parish church of st. Giuliano was erected in 1452 on the site where another older building was. The church of Jesus was built between 1527 and 1545, the chapel of St. Joseph was finished in 1560 and in 1572 the church of the Good Death (Buona Morte) was erected. In the 16th century the oratory of St. Chiara was built, too.

In the 17th century the church of st. Filippino was built whereas in the 18th the churches of the Most Holy Annunciation (ss. Annunziata) and of st. Filippo were done. The collegiata of st. Giuliano was made in a neoclassical style starting from 1836.

Out of the city centre, at the entrance of the Chio valley there are two religious sites: the church of St. Andrea del Pozzo (12th century) and the rural church of st. Ippolito and Cassiano in Retina, a Romanesque church built on Roman ruins.

Devotion to the Madonna is exemplified by three other churches outside the walls. To the north, the Church of Madonna delle Grazie del Rivaio, built in the early seventeenth century; to the south, the sixteenth-century Church of Madonna della Consolazione, with a central octagonal plan within the Vasari scope; and two kilometers to the east, the Sanctuary of Madonna del Bagno, which commemorates the Virgin’s apparition to two shepherds in the thirteenth century.

The Picture Gallery in the ex church of st. Angelo houses paintings, sculptures and sacred jewels made from the 13th centuries to the 18th century and all of them of priceless value. The Archaeological museum, inside the old town hall, narrates the history of the territory through its Etruscan, Roman and mediaeval artefacts. The Museum of the parish church of st. Giuliano has a collection of paintings, sculptures and vestments from different time periods.

It is worth mentioning also the castle of Montecchio, on the south of Castiglion Fiorentino, whose existence is documented since the 10th century and is one of the best kept mediaeval castles in Italy.

Castiglion Fiorentino, with Montecchio Castle in the background

Cassero tower

Vasari lodges

Vasari lodges

Church of St. Francis

Church of St. Francis

Church of St. Francis

Giorgio Vasari, Madonna and Child with Saints Anne, Silvester, and Francis (1548; oil on panel, 194×154 cm; Church of San Francesco, Castiglion Fiorentino)

Giorgio Vasari, Church of Madonna della Consolazione (1565; Castiglion Fiorentino)

Castiglion Fiorentino

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