Points of interest
PALAIA HIKING TRAILS
Walking means contact with Earth and Nature. In the “no more time” era, where everything goes on fast, a simple walk or trekking path is the simplest way of recovering time and discovering the pleasure of slow movement, taking advantage of what is around us but always slips away.
Palaia’s territory is made of typical aspects of the rural Tuscan landscape: sweet hills and secular woods, cypresses sequences and camps worked by the man showed with the wisdom of ancient olive groves or with the geometry and harmony of vineyards, all elements that melt harmoniously with the most savage nature.
The paths on the territory are a lot and can be chosen in base of various aspects like time of journey, difficulty and kind of way. The common and shared purpose is to enhance, protect and make available our cultural heritage and our excellences such as the landscape, the territory and the food and wine products linked to it, especially from the tourist point of view, a sector on which Palaia bases its vocation .
It is possible to find the PALAIA TREKKING ROUTES by connecting to the following link:
or you can follow and discover the updates of “PALAIA TREKKING” from the App or from your PC.
With the map and an appropriate dress code, it is recommended to walk with the mind free to fill it with the great spaces that this territory offers.
Have a good walk!
Villa dal Borgo
Villa Dal Borgo is a former Renaissance residence, property of a noble family from Pisa. They owned this property until 1950. An ancient exponent of this family was the druggist Bacciomeo from Pisa (1340), from which today it is named one of the restaurants inside the villa: here you can admire frescoes of the 18th century depicting scenes of daily life in the village. Wonderful is the view over Palaia from the eighteent century garden were until the Second World War stood the famous “Leccione” (big holm), important example of ars topiaria in Tuscany.
The old village
The old centre of Palaia develops on a longitudinal plan, with the square included, and it was the social and political gathering point of the hamlet. From the square in front of the church of Sant’Andrea and the adjacent alleys you can climb up towards the Rocca (the stronghold), which has a round plan and is the highest point of the village.
In the past, the medieval castle known as “MonsMagnifrido” was there, as it is mentioned in a document dated 936 A.D.
On the top of the Rocca you can find the “Cittadella” whose tower has square base, fortified keep and battlements.
Nowadays, nothing of the Rocca has remained apart from few ruins, but one of the most beautiful and wide panoramas over the Valdera and beyond can be enjoyed from the little hill.
The Church of San Martino
The Parish Church of San Martino, of great dimensions, is located just outside the walls of the village northdirection, along the road leading to Colleoli and San
Gervasio; It looks like a building with a rather uniform wall, although it has been restored several times over the centuries.
According to studies on its architectural structure, there seem to coexist two different moments of implementation, due to numerous stylistic differences that lead to the assumption of different phases of construction. Nevertheless, the most outstanding style is the Romanesque one, with its brick walls and its serene stone façade.
The interior is made up of three aisles of five arches with brick columns, a raised presbytery and three side chapels. The cotto decorations testify the cure and the search for imaginative details, both inside and outside the building, which find comparisons and analogies with those of the nearby churches of Sant’Andrea and San Lorenzo but also in vogue in the Diocese of Lucca and Arezzo.
Noteworthy are an ancient baptismal font in travertine, probably used, due to its large dimensions, to celebrate the rite with full immersion of the body; and to the right a marble stoup with a Latin inscription on the donation of the tithe of the wine. Over the years it has been mistakenly believed that the Church’s builder was Andrea Pisano: this belief is absolutely incorrect for chronological inconsistency as the famous architect was born in 1290, when the building of the church had already begun and perhaps ended.
The Church of Sant’Andrea
Walking along Via del Popolo towards the Rocca, you arrive at the square in front of the church of Sant’Andrea. The Church, fully made of clay-bricks and in Romanesque style, was built in 10th century and was incorporated in the first walls of the medieval village. Inside, there is just one aisle with no apse and many sacred artworks are stored there. You can admire one reredos made of glazed terracotta attributed to Giovanni della Robbia; two crucifixes made of wood painted according to the Siena art, the one over the main altar (1330) is attributed to Andrea Pisano; two statues on the altar sides, the one by Andrea della Robbia and known as “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” is made of painted terracotta and it is on the right, “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” made of painted polychrome wood by Francesco di Valdambrino (1401) is on the left. Francesco di Valdambrino was one of the most appreciated artists from Siena in the 15th century.
The Town Hall
The palace of Palaia town hall represents one of the historical buildings of the village. The old crests of the Podestà can be seen in the atrium whereas some beautiful frescoes of the end of 18th century and attributed to Luigi Ademollo and Gaspare Bargioni can be admired along the stairs and in some rooms, in the Council Room and in the Turkish room.
The Clock Civic Tower
The tower of the clock, at the centre of the village, was a civic gate with Ghibelline battlements once known as “Arco del Podestà” (1500). It became the clock tower in 1655.
Paesant Civilization Museum
“The landscape made of centuries, stories and lives appears live to the curious eye of the visitor who, through the coppaio (basement to store oil), the olive mill, the tunnel and the rooms of Vaccà Berlingheri family, discovers again sounds, perfumes, silences and objects and more. So they are captured by the magic of a place rich of fascination and poetry of an ancient time.”
Museo della Civiltà Contadina di Montefoscoli
Via Vaccà, 49 Montefoscoli
Info: Associazione Museo Montefoscoli Tel. 0587-657072 / 320-0291217 Email. firstname.lastname@example.org
The House-Museum Vaccà – Berlinghieri
The House-Museum Vaccà Berlingheri was the home of the noble family with the same name of the early 19th century. It is an important centre for the modern and contemporary local history.
Objects which trace the essential features of the events involving the main personalities of the family are exhibited inside the house, even the ones relating to the personal relationships with many prestigious figures of that time. The library stores a collection of medical treatises published by Francesco and Andrea and also many literature volumes; those reflect the role the family had in the cultural scene of Pisa, during the sojourn by Palazzo Lanfranchi, the meeting place for Leopardi, Byron and Shelley. An exhibition of the surgical instruments of Andrea Vaccà Berlingheri is in the library. In the hall, there is a rare fortepiano (1839) and a telescope donated by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, whereas prestigious potteries, crystals and silverware can be admired in the dining room, which is prepared as for the special occasions. Everything testifies to the high social level reached by this family during the first half of 19th century. Both Francesco and Andrea are buried in the monumental cemetery of Pisa.
The Temple at Medical Minerva
The temple of Montefoscoli is a neoclassical building surrounded by a holly oak wood. It is well built and rich of decorative elements and strong symbolic suggestions. It was designed by Andrea Vaccà Berlingheri, who was an illustrious doctor, a famous surgeon and a passionate Jacobin who entrusted the project to the architect Ridolfo Castinelli. The building was completed in 1826. The declared intent of Andrea Vaccà was to create a monument in memory of his father, Francesco, as the plaque above the entrance door reads. Yet the magnificence of the building, the eye for details, the presence of philosophical and Masonic symbols, the largeness and variety of the inside rooms have us doubt the declared intent was his only aim. About the real use of the Temple, no documents or testimonies are left, but many hypotheses have been formulated: social gathering area to discuss philosophy and politics, hunting estate for recreation and resting, space dedicated to Masonic rituals, private place for studying and experimenting on human body, space dedicated to anatomy lectures for trusted students.
None of those possible uses can be excluded. The Temple can be visited once per month, during full moon nights; extraordinary openings are provided for during village fairs or particular events.
Tempio a Minerva Medica Info and openings: http://www.tempiodiminerva.com/
The Village of Montefoscoli
Montefoscoli is an ancient village that extends on the ridge of a hill, which is accessed by a meandering road dotted with cypress trees. The first written news about Montefoscoli date back
to the Middle Ages, although its origins are probably Etruscan, because of the many archaeological finds, related to hypogea scattered in the surrounding areas and some funerary stones. Seat of a castle with adjoining church, Montefoscoli belonged, unlike Palaia, to the Diocese of Volterra. Even more ancient is a monastery of the SS. Ippolito and Cassiano founded in 1024 in
Carigi, currently the subject of a social project. The castle of Montefoscoli had the similar fate of all the other fortified villages of the area, often the centre of the clashes between Pisa and Florence, conquered and lost several times by both factions. Traces of the ancient castle are in the upper part of the village even if weak, are found in the upper part of the village, in the
the ramparts’ remains and in some masonry elements. The interest for Montefoscoli does not end here, in fact the village is famous for other monuments and historical buildings that have characterized its history and its fame over the centuries.
Alica was born as a small hamlet around the complex of the villa-farm, although its origins date back to the Etruscan period. Alica’s castle has been known since 1120 but it is with the Gambacorta family of Pisa, which had its refoundation in 1335. Subsequently it was donated to the monks of Certosa di Calci but then for management difficulties it was handed over to various families.
In 1565 Certosini transformed Alica into a flourishing farm until the early nineteenth century. Today as then Alica protrudes like a terrace on the Valdera with its church called SS. Maria and Jacopo, between sweet hills, olive trees and vineyards. Alica’s name seems to refer to the Latin term which should identify the Triticum spelta, or the ancient cultivation of the spelt known since antiquity both by the Etruscans and by the Romans.
The landmark is probably derived from the Latin Agellus (small farm), which is not uncommonly the small hamlet, situated on a clay plain between Palaia, Partino and Colleoli. Gello is remembered for the first time in the bishopric records of Lucca in 1260, for the presence of a church dedicated to San Lorenzo, dating back to that time, of a Romanesque plant and entirely built in brick.
Partino, an ancient village about 4 km from Palaia, has been existing since 1260 with the Church of Santa Maria Assunta. Its name is probably derived from “Parthanas” (pastures), an etymology that already refers to the pre- Roman period, since its territory is characterized by many finds of the Etruscan period, mainly referable to hypogeans. At the end of the village, in the direction of
Palaia, you can visit a historical-naturalistic route created by the Archaeological Group Tectiana, nestled among olive groves and fruit plants.
The Museum is inside a farmhouse of the 17th century and it houses a collection of tools, utensils and ancient agricultural machineries used in the past two centuries. The ancient castle of the Valdera still shows its medieval structure. What is particularly significant are the rural church, which dates back to 11th century and it is dedicated to San Gervasio and Saint John the Baptist, and also the castle dating back to 930 A.D. placed on the top of the hill. During the 18th century, the castle was turned into a farm-villa until the beginning of 20th century.
Toiano is a small hamlet towering from a clay spur. The village is within a beautiful naturalistic park characterised by badlands. It hosts a medieval castle and it was at the centre of the conflict for the power involving Lucca, Pisa and Florence for many centuries. Nowadays the village is almost deserted and it can be visited walking through a masonry arcade from which a vast panoramic view can be enjoyed.
The village of Villa Saletta dates back to the tenth century and still has the typical structure of an ancient castle with walls and a central street. Its name probably comes from the Longobard word Salecto which means country villa. Known since Etrurian times, it has lived its most splendid period between the 16th and 17th centuries when the Florentine family of the Riccardi made it one
of the most flourishing and well-known estateof the whole Tuscany. Villa Saletta today preserves the most intact rural architectural heritage of the entire communal territory: there are still many of the environments that made up the small rural world of the era such as the oven, washrooms, granaries and cellars.
There are two churches, the SS. Pietro and Michele church, and the Divine Sacrament Church, in which there is the sacred image of the Madonna della Rocca in Valle, that was painted in the second half of the thirteenth century and attributed to the Master of St. Martin. The square with the ancient Clock Tower and the sixteenth-century mansion complex, have been chosen as setting by many directors for their films such as “Good Morning Babylon” and “Fiorilla” by Fratelli Taviani, and “Io e Napoleone” by Virzì.
Colleoli looks like a small town set in the green of the hills, about 3 km from the center of Palaia, towards San Gervasio. The hamlet is made up of a handful of houses and the small little church of San Bartolomeo. The origins of Colleoli date back to the Middle Ages, as is evident from the structure of the castle, then transformed into a villa-farm. The history of Colleoli’s farm, unlike that of the others in the area, was born with a Pisan and non-Florentine family, that of the Augustini (1494), which administered for nearly five centuries a flourishing and extensive farm.
The place called “forcoli” originate from the Latin word furca, but in medieval Latin the term assumes the transliterated meaning of “intersection”, “bifurcation” as the form of the force. It is not clear whether the bifurcation in question was between the Tosola and Roglio torrent or between the valley of Tosola and the valley of the Era River, it is in fact that Forcoli is located in the plain at the junction between the two valleys and the two streams. Today, Forcoli is the largest inhabited center in the entire communal area, over the years it has experienced remarkable commercial development thanks to its favorable position as a passage between the high Valdera and Pontedera.