San Donato in Poggio…between the Middle Ages and Deep Space

The medieval village of San Donato in Poggio, nestled in the Chianti hills amidst craftsmanship, wine and traditional flavours, has been recognised by the Tourism Council of the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) as one of Italy's Most Beautiful Villages in 2022 thanks to its 'urban and architectural quality, the enhancement and promotion of its heritage, accessibility, harmony and homogeneity of its structures, and the vitality of its community'.

You could say that San Donato in Poggio lives a perfect synthesis between the past and the future, among walls reminiscent of ancient battles and sieges and telescopes which scan the stars. The medieval town, situated on one of the most beautiful hills of Chianti Classico is both a fortified town, with walls that enclose a historic center paved by stone and an obervatory (Osservatorio Astronomico del Chianti, OPC) which, a few kilometers away, took advantage of the hill of Montecorboli as an outpost facing the sky.

The medieval village of San Donato in Poggio

The existence of an antique means of communication of uncertain origin, which served the connection between Florence and Siena, is at the origin of both the pieve and the Castle of San Donato. They are two objects of diverse nature which polarized and organized part of the territory which extends between the Val d’Elsa and the Val di Pesa.

So writes Renato Stopani of the Center for Chianti Studies of Radda in Chianti. He is one of the historians who has continually studied the Chianti territory.

It seems that the name of San Donato in Poggio derives from the Romanic pieve which is immediately outside of the walls, a presence documented since the beginning of the year 1000, and named “in loro pocie”. “Pocie” (and then “Poci”) was the name of the village near the pieve, on a hill that faced Chianti Senese on one side and Valdelsa on the other. From here derived the name “Poggio”.

Outside of the village, in addition to the Romanic Pieve, there is the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Pietracupa, built in a locale which is considered “miraculous”.

Local celebrations and traditions: “l”Infiorata” and ”Il Bruscello”

In addition to the weekly market on Friday mornings, to the fairs in April and September, and to the patron saint (August 7), San Donato in Poggio signifies “Bruscello and Bruscellata.” This is a celebration in the middle of the summer.

There is an historic parade (all townspeople are directed by the Pro Loco) and there are theatre events in the Teatro della Filarmonica. This archaic form of popular theatre represents something alive with passionate participation, both to live and be seen.

A religious festival is the “Infiorata del Corpus Domini”, which is celebrated the first Sunday in June and colors the town streets. Flower petals, leaves and colorful wood chips are the material with which splendid designs are created to decorate the streets of town.

The solemn procession passes through and ends in the Pieve where a holy Mass is celebrated and refreshments are offered to the faithful.

From the Middle Ages to the stars

If you drive(or walk) a few chilometers towards Castellina in Chianti, you will find the hill of Montecorboli. The Astronomic Observatoy of Chianti, created by the town administrations and run by the scientific community, has been here for years. It has many functions.

In addition to being the Astronomic observatory, it is also the observatory for the environment and the geo-sismic and meteorological observatory.

Brilliant minds and incredibly people have passed through here: from the astrophysicist, Marcherita Hack (who inaugurated it in 2010), to the astronaut, Paolo Nespoli, to the tenor, Andrea Bocelli, who baptized the itinerary for the non- seeing.

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