Green hills, cultivated and punctuated by farmhouses, ancient fortified towns and medieval castles, a place for seekers of authenticity, those who wish to find in a small area all the marvels of scenery, art and history in an unspoilt rural setting.
Montaione overlooks the Elsa Valley and the surrounding area, offering views of rare and unspoilt beauty. All around, the neat lines of vineyards and the dense silver of olive groves make a wonderful backdrop to the village itself.
The area of Montaione has been inhabited since Etruscan and Roman times, as we know from extensive archaeological finds such as the remains of necropolises and furnaces at Poggio all’Aglione, Belafonte, Iano and Castelfalfi. After the Barbarian invasion, new settlements grew up, especially in places that offered greater security, like Amarante, Sala and subsequently the ancient castle of Montaione, with its towers and imposing perimeter walls, in the typical oval shape the town still retains today.
The name Montaione has Germanic roots, and indicates a Lombard presence in the area at that time.
The first clear mention of the name Montaione is in an 1113 document from Volterra, and only in another text from 1224 is the castle mentioned, with the land pertaining to it. The municipal council documents date back to 1256.
In that year the castle of Montaione was the seat of an autonomous comune which gravitated around San Miniato, and later, following the submission in 1369, Florence. Since the early 14th century, Montaione had been known for the art of glassmaking, to the extent that in the 18th century a decree by the Grand Duke of Tuscany ordered the master glassmakers to “teach the art” to their fellow citizens.
After the second World War the town’s layout was modified and restored. Industrial development after the war meant that a large proportion of the rural workforce left the area. Today Montaione’s economy is based on tourism, artisan production and traditional products grown and processed by the area’s numerous farms.
From its 341 metres above sea level, Montaione overlooks the Elsa Valley in the heart of Tuscany. All around, the neat lines of vineyards and olive groves make a wonderful backdrop to the village, whose municipal area occupies 104 square kilometres.
This is an extremely varied landscape, full of contrasts, and also includes extensive wooded areas, with species of tree and shrub typical of mediterranean maquis. Today the village has around 3800 inhabitants, who have preserved intact the genuine gastronomic and artisan traditions of their birthplace.
The village of Montaione is a small fortified medieval town, with houses clustered on a hilltop around a bell tower; its ancient walls and its collage of stone and red tiles are a harmonious interval in the surrounding hill country.
The simple layout of the town consists of three parallel streets, and there are several sites of particular interest. The 15th century Palazzo Pretorio, its facade adorned with many coats of arms in stone and glazed terracotta, representing ancient aristocratic families.
Inside the palace are the Civic Museum, the historical archive and the tourist information office. There is also the Palazzo Mannaioni, which dates back to the 16th century and belonged to the family of the same name. In Piazza della Repubblica stands the 12th century church of San Regolo, containing a valuable painting of the Madonna with child, dating to the 13th century and attributed to the school of Guido di Graziano.
In the hamlet of Sant’Antonio on the road to Gambassi Terme is the Filicaja villa. This was given as a gift to the poet Vincenzo da Filicaja by the Medici family. Two kilometres further on, we find a Roman water tank dating back to the 3rd century AD; it is divided into three rectangular basins which once collected water from the springs at Poggio all’Aglione.
The Montaione area
The area of Montaione has been inhabited since Etruscan and Roman times, as we know from extensive archaeological finds such as the remains of necropolises and furnaces at Poggio all'Aglione, Belafonte and other places.