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Barberino Val d'Elsa, Firenze. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini..

Barberino Val d’Elsa: a medieval village in Chianti

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Barberino Val d’ Elsa is a fortified village situated on a hill over the Elsa River valley at 373 meters of height, the village lies half way between Florence and Siena in the north-western area of the Chianti hills.

Barberino Val d’Elsa was founded by the Republic of Florence as a castle in a strategic position along the Via Cassia, the village was founded after the destruction, work of the Florentine troops, of the fortress of Semifonte, stronghold of the Counts Alberti, the destruction took place in 1202. Thanks to its location along an important route of communication, Barberino Val d’Elsa became one of the most important villages in the Florentine countryside.


Entering in the old village through the south gate, Porta Senese (14th century), on the left we find a noble palace: called Palace of the Cardinal, on its door it’s the emblema of the Barberini family, that of Pope Urbano VIII.

Barberino Val d'Elsa, Firenze. Autore e Copyright Marco Ramerini

Barberino Val d’Elsa, Firenze. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Proceeding on the main road on the right it’s the Palazzo Pretorio, now headquarters of the Propositura di San Bartolomeo, with its beautiful Renaissance facade adorns of 35 coats of arms of the magistrates dating back to the 15th century. On the opposite part of the square it’s a loggia that in the past had the function of pubblic loggia.

Inside the Church of Barberino, that was radically renewed in the 1910 by Castellucci architect, can be admired some fragments of frescoes of the 14th-15th century, a bust in bronze of the Beato Davanzato therefore a teca with his remain.


For a wonderful panorama over the surronding hills of the Chianti it’s advisable to stop at the lookout in the vicinities of the church, here are also a good pizzeria and a typical restaurant.

In the vicinities of the Porta Fiorentina (the gate to the north) is the Hospital of the Pilgrims (Ospedale dei Pellegrini), built in 1365, in which there are some frescoes and a grave. A statue has been recently placed in the square of the municipal palace, in commemoration of Francesco da Barberino, writer of 14th century native of Barberino.

In the surroundings of Barberino Val d’Elsa there are many villages and churches to visit, including the villages of Tignano, Linari, Sant’Appiano and Petrogano. Among the religious buildings, the beautiful Romanesque church of the Pieve of Sant’Appiano (12th-13th century) and the small dome of San Donnino built at the end of the sixteenth century and which reproduces in 1: 8 scale the dome of Florence Cathedral. In the village of Marcialla, in the Church of Santa Maria, is a fresco attributed to Michelangelo Buonarroti. Just below the town of Marcialla are the ruins of the Castle of Pogni.

Video of a walk in the historic center of Barberino Val d’Elsa.

In recent years in Barberino Val d’Elsa, usually on a weekend in June, it’s held a historical re-enactment dedicated to the ancient city of Semifonte: “Memoriae et Historiae of Semifonte”.

Porta Senese, Barberino Val d'Elsa, Firenze. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Porta Senese, Barberino Val d’Elsa, Firenze. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini


Barberino Val d’Elsa is a small medieval village located in the hills of Chianti, in the province of Florence, at about 36 km from Florence.

Car: To reach Barberino Val d’Elsa, coming from Florence, take the Raccordo Autostradale Firenze-Siena (at the exit Florence-Impruneta of the A1) and after 16 km exit at Tavarnelle, turn on the left (Tavarnelle direction) and than straight on for approximately 6 km until reaching Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, from here following the indications for Barberino (or Siena, Poggibonsi) after 2 km more you’ll arrive in Barberino Val d’ Elsa. Coming from Siena, always with the Raccordo Autostradale Florence-Siena, exit Poggibonsi Nord and then follow the indications for Barberino Val d’ Elsa (from the exit are approximately 8 km).

Road distances: Certaldo 15 km, San Gimignano 21 km, Florence 36 km, Siena 37 km, Volterra 44 km.

Barberino Val d'Elsa, Firenze. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Barberino Val d’Elsa, Firenze. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Bus: Barberino Val d’Elsa is regularly served by numerous daily buses of SITA that connects it to Florence, Siena and Poggibonsi. PIU’ BUS Scarl has daily buses between Barberino Val d’Elsa and Certaldo. 

train: There is a station of Barberino Val d’Elsa along the railway line Empoli-Siena, about 7 km from the village, this station is not connected to Barberino from any public transport service, so the best and the closest station is that of Poggibonsi, always on the railway line Empoli-Siena, which is only 9 km from Barberino. The main station of Florence (Santa Maria Novella) is 36 km away.

Air: The nearest airport is Florence-Peretola Amerigo Vespucci, which is located 47 km away. The airport of Pisa Galileo Galilei is located 87 km away.

Barberino Val d'Elsa

Barberino Val d’Elsa


Weekly Market: Saturday
In front of the municipality, from 8.00 to 13.00.

Tourist Information Office
Via Mannucci, 3
tel. +39 055 8075622 – +39 055 8075528


  • AA. VV. “Firenze e provincia” Guide Rosse Touring Club Italiano, 2007
  • Pirillo, Paolo “Semifonte in Val d’Elsa e i centri di nuova fondazione dell’Italia medievale” Atti del convegno, Firenze, Leo S. Olschki editore, 2004
  • Belli, Gianluca “La Cappella di San Michele Arcangelo a Petrognano” Empoli, Editori dell’Acero, 1997

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