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: https://it.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/user.do?id=3697689 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 and enjoy staying with us!
THE OLD VILLAGE AND THE FORTRESS (Panoramic view)
The ancient village of Palaia, was the social and political hub of the country during the Middle Ages. The original nucleus includes in its full length Via A. di Mino, the square in front of the Church of S. Andrea and the alleys branching off toward the fortress. With its 240 meters above sea level it is the highest point of the village, which looks like a tuff knoll in the centre of the village and is the highest part of the Castle, now disappeared but recorded since 986 under the name “Montemagnifridum“. Very few traces of the stone castle as well as of the fortress are still visible, only some remains of a portion of the stone wall on the south side of the hill. From the top you can admire one of the most beautiful views of Valdera and beyond!
S. ANDREW’S CHURCH
Along Via del Popolo towards the fortress you will arrive at the square in front of the Church of Sant’Andrea, one of the oldest in the village. The Church is an example of 13th-century Romanesque style. Inside there are some sculptures that represent one of the most prosperous artistic periods of the 14th and 15th centuries. Inside, consisting of a single nave without an apse, it preserves numerous artworks of sacred art. You can admire a glazed terracotta “Dossale” attributed to Giovanni della Robbia, two painted wooden Crucifixes, the one above the main altar (1330), attributed to Andrea Pisano and two statues on the sides of the altar, on the right is that of Andrea della Robbia, the “Madonna with Child” in painted terracotta and on the left, the “Madonna del Carmine” in polychrome wood painted and signed by Francesco di Valdambrino (1403).
THE CIVIC CLOCK TOWER
At the end of Via del Popolo, almost in the centre of the village, “The Civic Clock Tower” stands. In the past it was a civic gate, called “Arch of the Podestà” (1500), with Ghibelline battlements.
THE TOWN HALL (Ex Palazzo Cecchi)
“The Town Hall of Palaia” is one of the historical buildings of the village. With its three floors and the large front full of classic details, it is located in a prominent position on the main square. In 1842 it was owned by the noble Cecchi Family but in 1920 it was sold to the City Hall. In the entrance you can admire the ancient coats of arms of the Podestà while, along the stairs and in some rooms, you can see some beautiful neoclassical frescoes (late 1700) attributed to Luigi Ademollo (1764-1849) and Gaspare Bargioni, the “City Council Hall” and the so called “Oriental Room”.
“THE FLORENTINE GATE” AND VILLA DAL BORGO
The “Florentine Gate” was one of the two gates of the ancient hamlet. Just outside it, you will find one of the most important historical buildings in the village, “Villa Dal Borgo”, a former Renaissance residence, property of a noble family from Pisa. An ancient exponent of this family was the pisan druggist Bacciomeo (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. Wonderful is the view over Palaia from the garden were, until the Second World War, stood the famous “Leccione” (big holm), a unique work of Tuscan Ars Topiaria.
THE PARISH CHURCH OF SAN MARTINO
The monumental “Parish Church of San Martino” is the most famous religious building in Palaia. Its construction dates back to 1279, when the citizens of the village evaded the jurisdiction of the nearby church of San Gervasio creating a new parish, detached from the previous. This church is located just outside the walls of the village, northern direction, along the road that leads to Colleoli and San Gervasio; it looks like a building with a rather uniform wall, despite it has been restored several times over the centuries. Noteworthy are an ancient Baptismal Font in travertine, probably used to celebrate the rite with complete immersion of the body and a marble stoup with a Latin inscription about the donation of the tithe of the wine.
THE OLD VILLAGE AND THE MUSEUM OF PAESANT CIVILIZATION
Montefoscoli is an ancient village that extends on the ridge of a hill, which is accessed by a meandering road dotted with cypress trees. On the top of the village there is also the “Parish Church of Santa Maria Assunta” which dates back to 1349, built in bricks. The village is also famous for other historical monuments such as “the Museum of Paesan Civilization” and “the House-Museum Vaccà-Berlinghieri”. The two historic buildings merge with each other, distinct in their themes and exhibitions but at the same time both involved in the preservation of their origins.
Museum of Paesant Civilization and House-Museum Vaccà-Berlinghieri
The two buildings are in Via Vaccà, 49 in Montefoscoli.
Opening hours: From April to October, every Sunday from 10:00am to 12:30pm and from 3:00pm to 7:00pm. Free entrance with guided tour (only Italian speaking).
Info: Associazione Museo Montefoscoli Tel. 0587-657072 / 320-0291217 Email. firstname.lastname@example.org
Website link: https://www.museociviltacontadinamontefoscoli.it/
THE TEMPLE AT MEDICAL MENERVA
The Temple at Medical Menerva, located just outside the village, is a neoclassical building situated in an holm oak grove and enchants the visitor for its architecture and its aura of mystery. Between 1821 and 1823 Andrea Vaccà Berlinghieri built this temple in memory of his father Francesco, isolated from the village and surrounded by greenery, entrusting the project to the architect Ridolfo Castinelli. The intention stated by his son was to make a memorial to his father’s memory as the temple’s front plate says; however, the imposing architecture, the attention to detail, and the presence of philosophical and Masonic symbols suggest that this was not the only objective. The building is neoclassical, rich in decorative elements and strongly symbolic suggestions that refer to the Greek Goddess Menerva, a god of wisdom and protector of medicine. The Temple can be visited on reservation and is available for cultural events and private events. In addition, its history has recently been included in the tourism web marketing project “Tuscany Beautiful Everywhere”, promoted by the Tuscany Region.
The Temple at Medical Menerva
- Guided Tour: Società CdB – Turismo Cultura Arte e Creatività
Tel. 3288325711 (Sheila) / 3338764886 (Erica -English speaking) – Email. email@example.com
It can be visited on reservation and for a fee (every day, including week-days and holidays) in Italian and English language. In addiction, you can ask to visit the Museum of Paesant Civiliziation with a special tour in English language.
- Events and private parties: Mrs. Sofia Donalisio
Tel. 0587 657135 / 3332274036 – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website link: http://www.tempiodiminerva.com/
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 of 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.
Baccanella stands on the slopes of Alica hills, a small agglomeration of houses along the road that leads from Forcoli to Palaia and Montefoscoli. It probably has its name for an old tavern that was located opposite the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, an ancient religious building built around 1615. The place was often cited over the centuries for the presence of hot water and sulfur ponds to which miraculous healing was attributed. Nowadays there is only a small portion of agricultural land covered by natural combustion residues, where no cultivation grows.
GELLO DI PALAIA
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 bricks.
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.
San Gervasio is an ancient castle of Valdera, its existence dates back to the tenth century and still today shows its medieval setting of fortified village with circular plan. Of great importance is the small Parish Church dated to the IX century and dedicated to the SS. Gervasio and Giovanni Battista who, despite its modest size, had a great judicial power thanks to the Bishop of Lucca. San Gervasio was also transformed into a Florentine villa-farm in the course of the 18th century and so remained until the first decades of the 1900s.
Toiano is a small village that rises on a clayey spur, surrounded by a beautiful natural park characterized by calanchi (badlands). The current village of Toiano does not coincide, however, with the original nucleus, of High Medieval origin, where the castle was dominated
first by Lucca and then by Pisa. Toiano today is one of the abandoned villages of the Pisan territory: currently uninhabited, in centuries past was home to a small rural center that survived to its slow decline, due to the economic boom of the 1960s that led many families to move to work in the flourishing Valdera’s industries.
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 Etruscan 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. There are two churches, the Church of SS. Pietro and Michele, 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” by Fratelli Taviani, and “Io e Napoleone” by Virzì.
USIGLIANO DEL VESCOVO
Usigliano del Vescovo is located on the road from Palaia to the hamlet of Marti and is an example of fortified hamlet transformed into villa-farm. In medieval times it was the property of the Bishops of Lucca on the donation of Countess Matilde of Canossa (1078). Thanks to the Florentine domination and the investments of the noble families, Usigliano became a flourishing example of villa-farm, similar to those of Villa Saletta San Gervasio , Montefoscoli and Toiano. Today is home to the farm of the same name.
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.
AGLIATI, CHIECINELLA AND COLLELUNGO
Agliati rises on the top of a steep hill, where once was the old castle then replaced in time and space to the Church of San Martino. The building presents on the front a painting of the Saint by a Genoese painter, dated to 1935. From here there are many trails that go into the woods of the Chiecinella valley and towards Collelungo.
Chiecinella was in the past known as a small spa destination, as the water of the creek was considered beneficial. Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, a factory was built there, which soon proved to be bankrupt and was thus replaced by a carbon acid extraction plant in use until the 1970s. Today the factory is in disuse.
Collelungo takes its name from the farm-villa that is immersed in a centuries-old forest from which still stands the ancient tower. Today the property is private but you can walk the paths in its surroundings, from which you can enjoy an excellent view of the nearby Toiano.
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. Forcoli’s villa-farm was sold to the Brunner’s in 1916 and the family improved the organization of the estate by building a mill, new buildings, signals of an urban renewal that would have led the country to change its face and vocation. The villa-farm was characterized by a neo-medieval neo-gothic entrance and a three-arch bridge linking the access to the villa above the “Via dell’Impietrato”, an ancient medieval road.