On the right bank of the Arno river, in a territory made up by large hilly areas and by the balze, a canyon-like rock formation born with the erosion of the Arno river and its tributaries, Terranuova Bracciolini was founded at the end of 1200s as one of the three “Terre nuove” (“new lands”) together with the towns of San Giovanni Valdarno and Castelfranco di Sopra.
The new fortified villages were Florentine outposts against the expansion aspirations of Arezzo and the local lords. These villages were designed with a quadrangular diagram, with a central square from which the main streets began, perpendicularly among them, connecting four gates.
Castel San Maria was the first name of this town that was completed in 1337 and was the nearest to Arezzo. As the time passed, the hamlet was called Terranuova and in 1862 it was given officially the name “Terranuova Bracciolini”, honouring its most famous son, the humanist Poggio Bracciolini, who lived in the 1400s.
The centre of Terranuova still presents the mediaeval structure and presently there still are some traces of the city walls built in the 1300s, that also presented towers of different size and use.
In Repubblica square, the main one, there are the Town Hall and the church of st. Mary, which was built around the half of the 14th century, became a parish church in 1443 and an arcipretura in 1737. Its present aspect derives from the restoration made in the 1700s.
The church of st. Bartolomeo in Pozzo and the church of st. Biagio in Mori were built in the 14th century by settlers coming from those localities that decided to move into the new town, encouraged by the tax discounts offered by Florence. These churches were later retouched.
Concini palace, built in the second half of the 1500s, is a municipal space used for exhibitions, conferences and cultural events whereas the library and the Auditorium were originally a brick foundry (nowadays the complex is known as “Centro culturale Le Fornaci”, meaning cultural space “the foundries”).
The municipal territory of Terranuova Bracciolini is made up of marvelous hamlets at the foot of the Pratomagno, between the Setteponti road and the Arno plain, many of which were once fortified.
In Ganghereto there is a Franciscan convent, now managed by the Dominican nuns, from which comes the panel by Margarito d’Arezzo that depicts “San Francesco” painted in the second part of the 1200s that is now kept in the Museum of Medieval and Modern Art of Arezzo. According to tradition, Saint Francis found a water spring, thought to have miraculous properties even today.
The church of st. Mary, built in the Middle Ages, is in Pernina, that was part of a lost manor and that was restored with a baroque style in the 17th century.
In Montemarciano there is the sanctuary of Our Lady of Graces (santuario di Santa Maria delle Grazie), built in the 1600s; it is possible to enter inside the hamlet through Campana gate that is still intact in the city walls that protected the small town in the 13th century.
Piantravigne, one of the hamlets in the Balze area, is a locality that is perched on a natural cliff, with its church of st. Lorenzo, built in the 1300s. In the same century was built the church of st. Pietro in Treggiaia.
Castiglion Ubertini and Traiana had two castles owned by the Ubertini family that was one of the main of the Ghibelline party in Arezzo.
The lost castle of Montelungo was under the ownership of the Pazzi of the Valdarno. The church of st. Mary has a neo gothic style of the 1900s and was built in the same place of the mediaeval one that kept the “Madonna of Montelungo ” by Margarito d’Arezzo, presently in the Museum of Medieval and Modern Art of Arezzo. Near Campogialli, where there was another manor owned by the Pazzi of the Valdarno, was built the oratory of st. Mary in Campo Arsiccio, inside of which there are cycles of frescoes painted in the 14th century, probably by the studio of Andrea di Nerio and the Master of Barberino.
Church of Santa Maria Bambina
Church of Santa Maria Bambina
Church of Santa Maria Nuova, designed by architect Mario Botta (2010)
Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Montemarciano
Church of Santa Maria a Montelungo
Piantravigne with the Balze Natural Area in the background
Balze Natural Area
Valle dell’Inferno and Bandella Nature Reserve