The village of Montefioralle is probably one of the most ancient in Chianti and is still today enclosed within its original walls.
The village of Montefioralle is probably one of the most ancient in Chianti and is still today enclosed within its original walls. These were initially two circuits but houses now fill the space between the original structures. The walls were octagonal in outline, with four gates, modifications of which still exist. During the Middle Ages it was one of the largest military and administrative centres of the area. The first notice of the settlement is from 1085. It belonged to the families Ricasoli, Benci, Gherardini and Vespucci. In 1325 it was sacked by Castruccio Castracani. At the highest point of the village, the church of S. Stefano, rebuilt in the 17 C and 18 C, may be visited. In the wide nave are a number of works of art, notably a precious work of the 13 C depicting the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus and two angels, attributed to the Master of Bagnano or to the Maestro of Greve. In the presbytery is the "Trinity and four Saints", an anonymous work showing the influences of Neri di Bicci and Andrea del Castagno. On the left is a painting of the Virgin Mary with the John the Baptist and Saint Stephen, a work of the school of Lorenzo Monaco (beginning of the 15 C). Until 1630, the name of the village was Monteficalle. Since the 18 C, this fortified village has been overtaken by Greve in Chianti, originally a local market.
Castello di Montefioralle, first mentioned in 1085, was built with two parallel octagonal walls. The stone walls still exist, but the outer defensive wall evolved through the ages as houses were built against it, using the existing structure. Now a ring of homes and a narrow circular cobblestone street fills the space between the original walls. The four original gates still exist, but without the two descending doors at each guarded post that once provided security.. Until 1630, the name of the village was Monteficalle.
During the Middle Ages, Montefioralle, then known as Monteficalle (so honored in an epic poem by Boccaccio in 1344), was one of the largest military and administrative settlements of the area. It belonged to well-to-do Florentine families - Ricasoli, Benci, Gherardini and Vespucci. Amerigo Vespucci, the Tuscan adventurer and mapmaker, who “discovered” the harbor of New York and gave his name to America, lived here in the late 1400s.
In 1325, the castle was sacked by Castruccio Castracani, the Duke of Lucca. (An interesting tale of the life of Castracani was written by Machiavelli over 150 years after the Duke’s death from a malady feared most by Italians: raffreddore - a chill caught from the dreaded draft in 1328 after his greatest victory over the Florentines).
At the highest point of the village, in one corner of the inside wall, stands the church of S. Stefano, rebuilt in the 17th century and then again in the18th century. A large manor house across from the church was once the original castle keep.
In the 18th century, when Montefioralle was not necessary for its original defensive purpose, the village lost its predominance to the local market town of Greve.
Today, Montefioralle is know for its Kodak moments, its sagras (festivals) (the Sagra delle Frittelle (small fried balls of rice with a variety of other ingredients) in mid-March, among others), and as a location for picturesque weddings. There is an excellent osteria (Taverna del Guerrino) inside the walls, a wine tasting room for local vintages, but not much else.