Colle di Val d'Elsa
Colle di Val d'Elsa is a town in the Province of Siena and Tuscany, near Siena 27 Km (16 miles). Its name means “Hill of Elsa Valley”, where “Elsa” is the name of the river which crosses it. Today Colle di Val d'Elsa is internationally renowned for the production of crystal glassware and art (15% of world production), largely produced in the industrial lower tow (the area were we find the plate glass museum was occupied in the past by a 19th century furnace). The city is also famous as the birthplace of the sculptor and architect Arnolfo di Cambio. You go in the town through the ancient and monumental Porta Nova, then you will find a long and windy way with a sequence of 16th and 17th century fine noble houses (Palazzo Usimbardi, Palazzo Buoninsegni and the Town Hall). At the end of the way, after the magnificent Palazzo Campana, you will find the castle, the oldest part of Colle di Val d'Elsa.
Historical artistic sites
Santa Maria a Coneo Show position
LOCATION: in an isolated position near the road which leads to Buliciano, following another road on the right which goes directly to Colle di Val d'Elsa and Casole d’Elsa.
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: the first records date back to 1061. The church was owned by the Vallombrosan Order, but, its official consecration took place in 1123. The importance of the Abbey of Coneo was due to the patronage of noble families like the Signori di Picchena. It then fell into disuse but it was restored in the 18th century.
DESCRIPTION: the church has a beautiful facade made of stone divided into four blind arches on a colonnade and a shelf. The plan is a Latin cross with a central cupola and three apses, but only one is visible outside, the others are buried within the walls.
The capitols of the internal columns are decorated with geometric figures and floral motifs.
Tombe di Dometaia Show position
LOCATION: very close to Dometaia, on the left of the road that comes from Colle di Val d'Elsa and goes to Volterra, passing through Castelsangimignano.
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: a group of tombs of various sizes dating bak to the Etruscan- Hellenistic period. This seems to prove that a small settlement existed in that area, but its location is still unknown. These tombs, which date back to the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C., were profaned in the following years.
DESCRIPTION: a large mausoleum, with a rectangular plan and two chambers on three sides; other little tombs are all mausoleums, one of which has walls with an apse. The remains found on the site include cinerary urns, ceramic objects, bronze mirrors and the bones of the buried.
SS. Ippolito e Cassiano Show position
LOCATION: in an isolated position on the left of the road which goes from Colle di Val d'Elsa to Volterra passing through Castelsangimignano.
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: this religious building was known in the 10th century and later qualified as an important church controlled by the Diocese of Volterra with many suffragan church.
The church had many illustrious prelates as owners, but, as a result of the subsidence of the land, it became dangerous and therefore deteriorated. This was confirmed in 1413 when the left nave collapsed. A modest restoration was attempted in the 18th century, and another one about twenty years ago.
DESCRIPTION: the building has a basilica plan with three original naves, one collapsed, and three apses. The facade has no left nave and it made of bricks and travertine. Internally there are some interesting capitols decorated with aquatic leaves and human figures.
Santa Maria delle Nevi Show position
LOCATION: in an isolated position on the left of the old road which leads from Colle Alta to Colle Bassa.
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: the church was built at the beginning of the 16th based on the design of the famous architect Antonio da Sangallo il Vecchio.
After a period of prosperity, there were years of abandon and decay which is still visibile in its current condition. The building has been carefully researched.
DESCRIPTION: the building with elegant lines, has an entrance portico made up of four columns with Ionic capitols and two squared pilasters on either side of the rear of the portico.
All support an imposing gabled pediment. At the rear as well as the gable bell tower is a wall which hides the apse, seriously cracks. The building has been carefully researched
Le Caldane Show position
LOCATION: southbound, over Gracciano, there is a crossroads on the left of Via Francigena.
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: in the Etruscan and Roman age there were the thermal baths that still exist nowadays. The flooring was originally made of mosaics.
The thermal bath were destroyed by the troops of Siena in 1260, and rebuilt partially in 1400.
DESCRIPTION: thermal baths with source of warm water. The clear water is full of mineral salts, in fact it was known because of its healing properties, such as the skin rash.
The water, that gushes from the source, flows into the Elsa river.
Santa Maria delle Grazie Show position
LOCATION: in a “green” area of Colle di Val d'Elsa - Le Grazie - it is situated along the road that goes to Volterra and San Gimignano.
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: originally built as an oratory by the Luci family, it became a church in the 16th century, hosting nuns, monks and hermits.
DESCRIPTION: next to the gate there is a big iron cross which is underneath an archivolt and an oculus. It si possible to see the ruins of the convent on the back side.
Inside the church there are precious frescos of the painter Giovanni Maria Tolosani, like the "Madonna col Bambino", "Santa Caterina d’Alessandria" and "Il Cristo risorto con angeli".
Colle di Val d'ElsaInfo
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