San Piero a Sieve and Scarperia

Art and history

The communities of San Piero a Sieve and Scarperia are joined by an ancient history and today live in symbiosis thanks to the establishment, on 1 January 2014, of the single municipality of Scarperia and San Piero.

The old settlement developed around the parish church of San Piero from the eleventh century onwards and reached its heyday between the 14th and 15th centuries, when the Medici built their villas in the surrounding areas, such as the remarkable Trebbio Castle: they also built dwellings within the village, such as the Villa Adami (now the library) and the Villa Schifanoia. With its dominant position, the castle and the nearby dwellings have long hosted illustrious guests: loved above all for hunting by Lorenzo the Magnificent, the castle was also for a long time inhabited by the celebrated “condottiere” (military captain) Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, by his wife Maria Salviati and his son Cosimo, while in 1476 it was home to Amerigo Vespucci. Despite the unavoidable restoration works, the castle retains all of its original beauties, with the Italian garden on the west side and the wide terraced gardens to the south with their beautiful pergola on cylindrical brick columns.
Trebbio Castle was in 2013 recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Near the village, up in the hills, stands the San Martino Fortress, built by Cosimo I in 1569, assisted by Bernardo Buontalenti. Today it is in private hands but it is possible to walk round the walls, enjoying the splendid blend of history and nature.

Not far away is the Convent del Bosco ai Frati, founded by the Ubaldini family over a millennium ago and considered one of the oldest in Tuscany. Until 1206 it was occupied by hermits and then donated, along with a great part of the forest, to Saint Francis of Assisi, who in 1212 founded one of the most important Franciscan monasteries there.
In 1420 Cosimo de’ Medici had the church and convent rebuilt to the design of Michelozzi. The first members of the Medici dynasty left numerous valuable gifts to the convent, including the precious wooden crucifix attributed to Donatello, today kept in the small museum of sacred art next to the convent.

Right in front of B&B La Pieve you will find the Romanesque church of San Pietro, where Leonardo di Bernardo de’ Medici, Bishop of Forlì, was parish priest between 1482 and 1529, and whose family insignia can be seen on the main door.

The spectacular baptismal font in polychrome glazed terracotta, made by the Della Robbia workshop in 1508, decorated with scenes from the life of John the Baptist, is due to Medici patronage. On the high altar is a wooden Crucifix attributed to Raffaello da Montelupo.

A few kilometers from San Piero a Sieve is the community of Scarperia where the Ubaldini ruled from time immemorial until the Florentine Republic, wishing to oppose them, decided to found on 8 September 1306 a “new land” called Castel San Barnaba, subsequently Scarperia (on the “escarpment” of the Apennines).

The historic centre is the location of the magnificent Palazzo dei Vicari which served in the 15th century as the seat of the Vicario (local captain). The building is evidence of the power of the Medici family, with the façade displaying the coats of arms of family members who at various times held this important office of the Republic.
Besides accommodating the precious historical archives and the ancient clock in the bell tower (the work of the great Florentine architect Filippo Brunelleschi), the Palace is also home to the now refurbished 
Knife Museum: Scarperia was for centuries a centre of high-quality knife production.