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Torre nelle mura di Lastra a Signa. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Lastra a Signa: a village with intact medieval walls

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Lastra a Signa is located 15 km from Florence, its name was originally “Lastra a Gualandi”, which derives from the name of the noble Gualandi family. The name Lastra derives from the stone (slab) that was found in quarries near the city. The village has medieval origins, as a rest station on the road between Florence and Pisa, since the Middle Ages it has been an important strategic outpost for the defense of the city of Florence.

Because of its strategic position to defend the city, Florence heavily fortified it. The construction of the walls began in 1400 and was completed in 1426, Filippo Brunelleschi took part in the last period of the works. Lastra a Signa represented at the time the most important Florentine defense against Pisa, the fortified villages of Signa and Malmantile were also part of the network of fortifications to defend Florence.

Loggia of the Hospital of Sant’Antonio, Lastra a Signa. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini


The walls of the town are still almost intact and maintain their original shape, of the 10 fortified towers 7 remain. Two entrance gates still remain of the three that originally formed part of the walls: the Porta Pisana and the gate called Portone di Baccio , while the Porta Fiorentina was destroyed during the II World War. The Porta di Baccio reaches a height of 22.30 meters. The height of the walls varies between 6 and 10 meters, it was originally completely surrounded by a moat, which has now completely disappeared.

Inside the walls there are buildings of considerable historical and artistic interest. Here you should visit the Palazzo Pretorio, on whose façade there are numerous coats of arms, and the Spedale di Sant’Antonio, a work from the beginning of the 15th century. The Loggia of the Spedale di Sant’Antonio was built between 1416 and 1421 and it seems that it was one of the first works in which Brunelleschi also collaborated. Among the churches inside the walls, the most important is that of Santa Maria alla Lastra from the early 15th century.

Coats of arms, Baccio gate, Lastra a Signa. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

The surrounding hills are dotted with numerous splendid villas such as that of Bellosguardo, with the Tribolo garden, which was owned by Enrico Caruso. Also of interest is the Church of San Martino a Gangalandi, built in the 12th century, with the apse designed by Leon Battista Alberti, and the old fortified village of Malmantile.

The Vicarial Museum of sacred art is located in the parish church of San Martino in Gangalandi. The museum dedicated to the tenor Enrico Caruso is located in the Villa Caruso di Bellosguardo.


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