Castelfranco di Sopra, part of The Most Beautiful Villages of Italy, is a medieval village in the municipality of Castelfranco Piandiscò, perched on the Valdarno hills. The toponym apparently derives from the fact that the first inhabitants, having moved from the countryside to the upstream castle of Florence, had exemption from taxes for ten years, for this reason it was called "Castello Franco al di Sopra in Florence".
At the entrance of the town is the splendid tower from the 1300s, Torre d 'Arnolfo, symbol of the town, which together with the walls and the architecture of the city, was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio. Located along the ancient route that connected Arezzo to Fiesole, the territory on which Castelfranco di Sopra today stands was occupied in pre-Roman times by an Etruscan settlement. Passed under the control of Rome around the III century, the territory underwent an intense urbanization, fed by the construction of the via Consolare Cassia antica. The fall of the Roman Empire of the West the area came under the domination of the Lombards, as attested by the remains of Longobard structures recently discovered near the ancient Abbey of Soffena, datable around the 825. Founded in 1299 by the Florentine Republic, Castelfranco di Sopra was conceived as a military outpost in anti aretina, and as commercial hub for the terrestrial routes that linked to the territory of the Republic to the Arezzo area. To populate the "Terra Nova" (new land), the village has been temporarily exempted from payment of taxes, thus attracting him numerous commoners coming from neighboring communities. In the lap of a fifty years were built the walls, the piazza and the districts facing thereto. Passed in the nineteenth century under the administration of the Province of Arezzo, Castelfranco di Sopra suffered destruction of walls and the ancient Loggia of Arnolfo di Cambio, the Florentine architect who had managed the construction.
Castelfranco di Sopra is linked to the name of San Filippo Neri who spent his holidays in his grandparents' house in the summer, the church is dedicated to him at the entrance to the town. Going to the discovery of the village and arrived in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele is the old town hall.
While the built part of this florentine "terra nova", which is at the origin of the walled town of Castelfranco, appears orderly, geometric, according to a checkerboard pattern of orthogonal axes, the natural part - a kind of Monument Valley in miniature - is bizarre, fantastic, unreal: as equally unreal are the backgrounds of the paintings and drawings by Leonardo da Vinci that, according to several scholars, seem been inspired to the balze area. The balze, created by a soil erosion, draw a yellowish landscape of strong suggestion that seems to project this corner of Tuscany in Arizona, were it not for the green patches of vegetation in the ravines. This natural area is called "landscape of fairies." Emotions continue on the old road of the Setteponti, dotted with Romanesque churches, farmhouses, tower houses, small villages, while in the town of Castelfranco to relive the lost beauty you have to go looking for two Madonnas: the one of the school of Andrea del Sarto and the one of the Master of Cassone Adimari (called "the splinter"). The latter is located in the church of the Abbey of San Salvatore in Soffena (1394), which is just outside of the village with the adjoining convent, from which you can admire the cloister. The designer of Castelfranco, according to Vasari, would have been the famous architect Arnolfo di Cambio. Certainly the Florentine footprint is completely visible, not only in the urban layout but also in some houses of the first section of Via Maestra, dating back to the founding of the "terra nuova" (1299) and unmistakeably similar to the terraced houses in the historic center of Florence.
Village of Castelfranco di Sopra
Municipality of Castelfranco Piandiscò
Province of Arezzo
Altitude center: 281 m a.s.l.
The Municipality is part of:
I Borghi più belli d'Italia
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