Rignano sull ‘Arno and surroundings

Here are some guidelines on what to see and do in our area

Historic village of Valdarno, around among old houses and Romanesque churches

The territory of Rignano sull ‘Arno is located on a hilly, south east of Florence, in the Upper Valdarno, and the capital is located near the Arno River on the left bank. Particular conditions have certainly favored since ancient times to the formation of stable human settlements in the area. A series of archaeological findings in different locations display an intense population already in Etruscan. Perhaps, Rignano sull’Arno that seems to derive from the Latin word “Arinianum“, as evidenced by the name praedial (praedia Latin word, which means farms), it was a settlement of a Roman colony.

The history

The name Rignano takes its name from an agricultural plot (pagus Herannianus) located, in all probability, in the floor where was later built the church of San Leolino. The name of Rignano, in fact, has followed in its history the country’s development. Initially linked to Pieve, then passed to the Castle and then to Ponte Arno. The castle was built not far from Pieve much that, to date, on the hill of Castelluccio, location of the village of Rignano House site on a hill overlooking the administrative center in the north, they are the ruins.

The oldest is a card of 1086 and perhaps witness the first traces of the town: the donation by Serafino, Rodolfo’s son, his wife and his mother Iota Mardula, some properties, including “Terris et rebus et castellum novo here vocatur Regnano “. Significant is the fact that until 1086 there was a castle in Rignano again, as this assumes, of course, the existence of an old castle. And in fact, we find in subsequent contracts: in 1170 “actum in the Old Castle de Rignano” and in 1213 sales to the monastery of Vallombrosa to “duas petias terrarum positarum to Rignanum and medietatem unius domus posite in castellare veteri de Rignano“.

Other traces of a town you have in the twelfth century when Emanuele Repetti writes about the voice and Ponte Rignano Rignano that if known to exist as a result of “a privilege granted by Emperor Henry VI in 1191 to the abbess and nuns of the nearby Monastery Sant’Ellero, and confirms them among the many assets they owned Anco those of Rignano, where possessions later sottentrarono monks of Vallombrosa.

Although the construction of the Medici Ponte di Rignano whose origins are identified between 1280 and 1380 when they were built about twenty bridges in the territories controlled by the City of Florence (first evidence of the existence of the bridge is in “Chronicle” of Giovanni Villani, 1343), the capital was long formed by a few houses and scattered along the crossing of the River Arno. Probably arrangement characterized by the path of the Roman Via Cassia (Cassia Adriana) compared to the previous track Etruscan (Cassia Vetus) uniting the provinces of Arezzo and Florence. During 1500 the village is a quiet village of countryside adjacent to the bridge. In that century the country, known as Ponte a Rignano, traditionally had its own market that was only interrupted for a few years for the effects of the siege of Florence in 1530. He was already at work in 1426 also the hospital of Saints Philip and James for the ‘assistance to travelers. Was predominant agricultural activity, both during the seventeenth century that in the eighteenth century, which is why the vast majority of the inhabitants lived in homes outside the city center.

The February 13, 1773 the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo abolished the division in alloys to form communities. Hence, the Community of Rignano from the ashes of the previous league; was made up of 15 people who were seconded by the Podestà of Pontassieve to be inserted in the Vicariate of St. John. In 1835 was established a weekly market on Mondays and exhibition to be held every first Monday in May.

The major boost to the development comes after the unification of Italy with the construction of the railway line between Florence and Rome, which favored the village with its own station which also serves the nearby town of Reggello and its neighboring villages of San Clemente and holm. The inauguration of the line, which took place in 1866, also contributes to the social development of the country, between 1875 and 1880, saw the construction of the Town Hall and a number of public and private initiatives that led to urban expansion of the settlement. The airport rail throughout the century became the reference for agricultural products Rigney and farms they had significant advantages. Meanwhile, after the brief experience of the early nineteenth century to a glue factory, around 1880 began also the first industrial activities. Around 1880 it was implanted a paper mill and built a factory for the production of cement and kicks to exploit the deposits of limestone hills immediately adjacent the capital.

The population of the municipal area increased considerably, thanks to the development of the cement, until 1917 when it touched the 6954 inhabitants. Urbanistically Rignano, which for centuries had been a settlement of limited extent, between the two ends of the bridge along with the hamlet of San Clemente, changed his appearance. Between 1920 and 1930, is enriched by the rows of houses that characterized today the center of Viale Vittorio Veneto and Via Piave, while a series of villas were built along the slopes of the hill. In 1922, together with the doubling of the railway line national, is built along the viaduct arches that still supports the Arno. In these years also arose some public works of great importance such as a theater, a kindergarten, a sports field and the public slaughter. The population remains stable in between the two wars and then declined significantly as noted by the 1961 census.

Were still serious damage brought by World War II. The bridge Rignano was destroyed along with the train station and the town hall. Collapsed a large part of the housing central and those of nearby San Clemente, also the cement factory was bombed heavily.

Episode relevant, August 3, 1944 in retaliation against Albert Einstein, were killed by Nazi troops some family members who had moved near Troghi at the end of the thirties. In it died Cesarina Mazzetti (Nina), Light and Annamaria Einstein, the wife and daughters of Robert’s cousin Albert Einstein; this event is known as the massacre of Rignano or massacre of Focardo. Broken by the pain the following year, on the day of the 32nd wedding anniversary with Nina, committed suicide also Robert who was buried next to the family in Cimitero della Badiuzza, By the local Courts, a short distance from the Villa Focardo, where today you can see the monument in their memory.

The reconstruction work after the war allowed him to resume most of the roads already between 1946 and 1947, while in subsequent years was completed in 1954, also a new town church that paralleled the San Leolino that slowly fell into disuse.

The country slowly began to expand in new directions, toward the old parish church and to the Pian island. The development has accelerated in the past two decades as the capital and its surrounding villages are experiencing rapid population growth also favored by the displacement of many Florentine citizens towards the urban peripheral areas of the Province.

Rignano Arno is the birthplace of famous people like Lapo da Castiglionchio canon lawyer and writer friend of Petrarch (? -1381), Vespasian Bisticci humanist (1421-1489), the painter and poet Soffici (1879-1964) and Matteo Renzi (1975), now head of the Italian Government.

Monuments and places of interest

In the capital of the Pieve di San Leolino whose testimonies already in 1066 in a document of the Monastery of San Piero Maggiore in Florence, records the donation of the noble Donna Kisla, the widow of Azzo Pagano. Pope Paschal II spoke of the church in 1103. Nine churches were dependent Pieve which in turn was one of the 36 dioceses of Fiesole. By examining the structure of the Parish, are characteristic architectural features, specific to the ancient Roman period. Although the church has been recently restored, the back, the three apses, part of the nave, and the lower part of the bell tower are dated to the original building. The top of the bell tower, has four open arches surrounded by stones wedge-shaped green and white alternately. Today, only the area that houses the two arcs final part of the original church, the front is a new construction (ie the remaining three arches), probably built in the seventeenth century. Over the past centuries, the church has been enriched with many works of art including paintings, frescoes and statues. Some of the works of art are now kept in the new church in Rignano Arno, others have been lost, perhaps forever. When the church was restored from 1995 to 2002, two important frescoes have been restored; the first, a work of art of the late fourteenth century depicting ‘Coronation of the Virgin with the Angels and Saints‘ which is on the left of the church, the second smallest fresco is ‘The Madonna nursing‘ and is on right side, goes back to the early fifteenth century and has been attributed to the Florentine painter Bicci di Lorenzo. The restoration of the fresco ‘Coronation of the Virgin‘ has uncovered the sinopia (ie the original sketch by the artist). On the left side of the main entrance you can see the baptismal font hexagonal glazed terracotta attributed to Benedetto and Santi Buglioni sixteenth century, of great interest are the stories recorded by St. John the Baptist.

The population of Rosano office on Monastero di Santa Maria di Rosano, Founded in 780. As engraved on the facade, the convent was donated by the Guidi family during the eleventh century; has undergone several expansions of two major, one of the sixteenth century and one of the eighteenth, the first brings the touch of Michelozzo. Run by Benedictine nuns cloistered, the complex was recently renovated in 1966 by architect Guido Morozzi. The Romanesque church, with three naves resting on square pillars and the portal in the façade of 1523, has been restored to its shape in the fourteenth century. On the one hand, the tower of the twelfth century stands up with the set of single, double and triple lancet windows. Inside the church, there is a triptych by Giovanni dal Ponte of 1430, a rare crucifix of the thirteenth century by the Master of Vico and a font of 1423. The vaulted crypt still part of ‘Romanesque apse, transformed in the sixteenth century during the enlargement process and an altar inlaid. Christmas Mass is celebrated in Gregorian chant. At the small shop you can buy items of hand embroidery made by the nuns.

Near the monastery there is Rosano Fattoria di Castiglionchio a villa currently used as a tourist complex: built over an ancient castle that was partially destroyed by the Ghibellines after the battle of Monteaperti in 1260; fortress rebuilt a century later but again destroyed.

Continuing towards Villamagna is the Chiesa di San Lorenzo a Miransù, An ancient religious building that was already known in the first decades of the eleventh century, structured in its present form during the fourteenth century, remodeled in 1886 and permanently renewed in the years 1966 and 1968. The church has three naves separated by arches supported by square pillars with semicircular apse. The bell tower was built in the church; the coats of arms of the town’s patron saint are kept on the beautiful facade.

Again in the direction of the capital we find the Castello di Volognano, An ancient possession Ghibellino subsequently transformed into a villa with neo-Gothic accents. In Chiesa di San Michele a Volognano, Which was rebuilt in the late nineteenth century, are preserved an altarpiece of 1514 by Mariotto Albertinelli, a “Madonna and Child” by Lorenzo di Bicci and a “Madonna” by the Master of Volognano, unknown artist close Domenicio Puligo and Rosso Fiorentino.

Continuing in the direction of San Donato in Collina in Santa Maria is the Chiesa di San Pietro in Perticaia which preserves the original Romanesque structure with the pattern in simple rectangular hall closed apse. Restored during the eighties of the twentieth century, the small complex also includes a rectory and the remains of a small Renaissance cloister. The church houses a fine triptych attributed to the Master of ‘Coronation of Christ (the end of the fourteenth century, from the nearby church towers and a wooden crucifix of exquisite Florentine school of the late fifteenth century and early sixteenth).

Going up to Nazio, a detour leads to the ruins of Castello di Antica damaged by the Ghibellines after the battle of Montaperti in 1260. Vestiges remain visible medieval among which side of Chiesa romanica di Sant’Andrea today unfortunately barn.

Continuing we find the deviation for San Cristoforo in Perticaia, now called Monastero di Santa Maria in San Cristoforo church built in the eleventh century on the ruins of an ancient castle on the top of the hill; it retains an excellent porch with five arches and a triptych attributed to Cenni di Francesco, representing the Madonna and Child and the sides St. Christopher and St. Margaret who crushes the head of the wolf represents evil. The name ‘Perticaia‘ is of Lombard origins, in fact, in that place there was a settlement of the Lombards that they positioned a club called ‘Pertica‘ on every grave in the cemetery. In 1997, at the end of the restoration work, the Mass for the dedication of the church was celebrated by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and who later became Pope Benedict XVI.

Descending from the Le Corti right you notice the bell tower of the ancient Chiesa di Badiuzza a Ughi Vallombrosani built by the monks in the twelfth century. In the church were kept some elements that recall the ancient origins. E ‘consists of a classroom covered with a roof with pouch where are preserved Romanesque structures. To these were added later other elements of Gothic character, also can be seen in the apse arched window of the first half of the fourteenth century.

Near Badiuzza, within walking distance are the ruins of the Monasteraccio a Casignano, a construction founded in 1311 and abolished in 1502, according to legend, because of the unlawful conduct of the Benedictine monks. Are the remains of a wall and a tower with Gothic arch.

Near San Donato in Collina is visible the spectacular Villa di Torre a Cona Quona former property of the family, then the family Rinuccini and today the Rossi of Montelera. E ‘was built on the ruins of an ancient castle. The large building catches the eye thanks to the magnificent facade of the eighteenth century composed of two sets of windows and the game made by a sophisticated system of stairs. An avenue lined with cypress trees and Italian-style garden complete the villa, which is among the finest of his era.

A short drive away is the town of Troghi, a village where in the past were active many mills and ovens. Engraved in the direction lies the small village of Cellai, where Chiesa romanica di Santa Lucia a Bisticci and the ruins of the castle of the same name, on a hill overlooking the surrounding landscape.

Near town Cellai towards Pian Island are the Fattoria di Fonte Petrini Once belonged to noble Donna Kisla, of French origin, and then donated to the Monastery of San Pier Maggiore in Florence, with a well-known legacy of 1073. Following is a wonderful hill the Villa di Poggio Francoli, Built in the late sixteenth century by ‘Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence in the style of Bernardo Buontalenti with a project hipped roof topped by a square central tower.

Returning to the capital, in Pian Island, an area near the Arno River in the eleventh century was dominated by the Torre all’Isola, An imposing watchtower well preserved and recently restored.

We wish you a pleasant stay in our region rich in history.


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