The story of the county of Greve in Chianti, in central Tuscany, Italy

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History of Greve in Chianti

The county of Greve in Chianti

The municipal territory (county) of Greve is situated among medium to high hills, between the Monti del Chianti (Chianti hills) and the confines of the valleys of the rivers Greve and Pesa. It has an area of 169 square km. The maximum altitude touches 900 m at Monte San Michele, while the main town of Greve is 236 m above sea level. The county of Greve is bordered by the counties of Bagno a Ripoli, Rignano, Incisa Valdarno, Figline Valdarno, Cavriglia, Radda in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, San Casciano Val di Pesa and Impruneta.

History of Greve in Chianti

Piazza Matteotti of Greve in Chianti - known as Piazza del Re Umberto in the 19 C.

History of Greve in Chianti

The current municipal territory of Greve is an area of ancient settlement, as indicated by toponymy and a few discoveries made among the place names entered in the land registries of the diocese of Fiesole during the middle ages (e.g. Canonica, Citrulle, Casole, Lucolena). At that time, Greve was described as "a little village in the parish of San Cresci di Monteficalli". The pieve of San Cresci (parish church) is about 1 km across the valley from what is now Montefioralle, previously Monteficalli. Greve was destined, nevertheless, to develop as a market ("mercatale") at the intersection of the roads passing through Chianti from Florence to Sienna, and from the upper Valdarno to the Val di Pesa.

Although other places nearby, such as Strada and Rubbiana, also adopted the role of trading centre, Greve grew to such an extent that it became the capital of the homonymous Leopoldian community which, in the second half of the 18 C, replaced the leagues of the Val di Greve and Cintoia which already had their own podestà. The interests of the various fortified nuclei in the area converged on Greve as a market town, centred on the attractive triangular piazza which is still surrounded by pretty arcades. Among these fortified population centres, the most important were Montefioralle, a veritable "walled town" with a feudal castle and a church, Panzano, built up by the Firidolfi and originally a village that was for centuries the most populous in the territory, Lamole, a minor location but with a castle and the centre of an area of ​​sparse but quite high population, and, further away on the other side of the Monti del Chianti, Lucolena, which has in the meantime lost its fortifications.

The northern part of the municipal territory of Greve was occupied by the league which took its name from the Castle of Cintoia, located on the western slopes of Montescalari and probably of Lombard origin, which in the 17 C and 18 C was the main centre of the Val d'Ema, possessing a certain autonomy but now no more than a small rural village. The same can be said of Dudda, former stronghold of the Counts Guidi, and Sezzate which is better furnished with defense works and is the former seat of a rural fortified community.

Many of the numerous castles in the municipality were subsequently transformed into villas and farms, including Uzzano, which belonged to the family of the famous Niccolò da Uzzano, Vicchiomaggio, the 'Viculo' of the 10 C Lombards, and Mugnana, which retains interesting architectural elements from the 13 C. Others, however, have lost their original character (e.g. Citille, Collegalli, Convertoie, Rignana, Torsoli, Linari) or retain a few mediaeval remnants (e.g. Montegonzi and le Stinche - now Stinche Alte but previously in the municipality of Radda). Others are even the hard to locate, among them Montagliari and Rubbiana. There are also numerous mediaeval "manor houses" now transformed into villas, which include Verrazzano, which belonged to the family of the navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano, Colognole, Vignamaggio, Vitigliano, and Santa Lucia.

Five parish churches attest to the ancient religious organisation of the territory of Greve: Rubbiana, Cintoia, Sillano, San Cresci and San Leolino. All of these display considerable remnants of the original Romanesque structures, particularly San Leolino, which is flanked by a cloister, posseses a 16 C portico and preserves several works of art. Many of the mediaeval churches that were dependencies of the five parish churches have lost much of their mediaeval character, with the exception of those at Vicchiomaggio, Convertoie and Le Stinche. More about romanesque churches in Chianti.

Near Greve there also arose a small Franciscan monastery, of which today there remain some traces in the current Museum of Religious Art, and there are reports of a hospice built near Mercatale. At San Martino in Cecione there was a monastery for women, the church of which was donated to the parish, but a more long-lasting monastic complex was the Montescalari Vallombrosian Abbey, rebuilt by Alfonso Parigi 16 C and 17 C, and, after the suppression of the monasteries, was transformed into a villa-farm.

Expressions of popular piety worthy of note are the oratory of Sant' Eufrosino at Panzano, dedicated to a saint who is particularly revered in Chianti, and the Chapel of Our Lady of the Snows at Montagliari, rebuilt in 1632 in baroque style, as well as several minor strcutures which include the small but elegant Cappella di Ottavo near Lucolena. The original Capella della Madonna della Neve a Montagliari might mark the uncertain location of the castle of Montagliari.

Anna Maria Baldini

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