MONSUMMANO and surroundings
The village of Montevettolini perches on the summit of a hill in the northwestern part of Montalbano, 187 meters a.s.l. and just over four kilometers from Monsummano Terme’s center. Founded around the 12th century, the castle was an immediate thriving and rich presence that was inspired by the village’s twelve confraternities. It became even more prosperous when the first Medici grand dukes chose Montevettolini as a place for hunting.
At the end of the 16th century, Ferdinando I commissioned Gherardo Mechini and Domenico Marcacci to build the mighty villa dominating the village from the western end of the city walls. Today it is owned by the Borghese princes.
During the years it was frequented by the Medici court, the village was enriched with sumptuous patrician residences, such as the Mimbelli, Tonini, Bardelli, Barbacci, and Bargellini houses, many of which house valuable works of art.
There are still traces of its primitive medieval structure in the village’s urban fabric, as seen in the square “island” on the west side of the church’s piazza, right in front of the ancient village hall. To the west, just below the village, six towers were built to defend the castle. There were five square ones and a sixth, octagonal tower known as “dello Sprone” or “delle Murina“.
Three gates gave access to the village: the “del Montaletto” gate, destroyed in 1830, the “del Vicino” gate, to the north, also known as “del Malvicino”, and then the “dei Barbacci” gate, the only one still remaining intact. However, the gate known as “Del Cantone” was incorporated into the Medici villa. The fortress that dominated the village from above also suffered the same fate.
From the 13th century on, the ancient town hall represented the castle’s political and administrative power. The building still retains a suggestion of its glorious past with the stone and glazed-ceramic coats-of-arms of the podestà on its façade; while, the ground floor, the loggia on the left of which opened to the street, and the doorway to the ancient watch tower, on the right were walled in.
Medieval towers were also used for the church’s bell tower. Demolished in 1729, the oldest one was incorporated into the ecclesiastical building. The current bell tower was built in the 15th century by adapting another watchtower. Placed against the presbytery, it is set on a barrel-vaulted gallery that leads into Piazza Bargellini from Via del Portone.
A chapel dedicated to Saint Michael once stood on the site of the village’s church. A dependency of the Parish Church of San Giovanni Battista e San Lorenzo in Vaiano, it had stood since the 12th century. The current appearance of Montevettolini’s church is due to the restructuring carried out by Vittorio Anastagi beginning in 1733, when the ecclesiastical building was superelevated and covered with a vaulted roof. Inside was the high altar in polychrome marbles, a work by Bartolomeo Moisé from Seravezza.
For more info:
Pro loco Il Rondò di Montevettolini
Phone: +39 0572640383