Once you have enjoyed the wonders of Il Cassero per la Scultura, it is pleasant to wander about in what has always been the Market Square. This square has been completely renovated and has become one of the most important public spaces of the town.
Montevarchi, on the edge of the Chianti region, is well worth a visit. Its interesting alleys connect the various portions of the unique “almond”- shaped historic centre.
Montevarchi has always been both protected by its walls and open to commerce. A good example of this is the famous street market which has been held every Thursday for eight hundred years. The market was so important that it introduced its own unit of measurement – la Staio montevarchino (from the Ancient Roman measurement: “stadio”).
The street named Isidoro del Lungo (The Museum Road), which runs from the square in front of the museum, has some interesting features: The Collegiata di San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence Collegiate Church) - initially Romanesque now Baroque – which contains the Relic of the Holy Milk and an altar by Massimiliano Soldani Benzi.
In the Museum of Sacred Art, we can admire the templet by Andrea della Robbia dated 1505. Two other churches worth a visit are: the 16th century Madonna del Giglio and Misericordia also known as La Chiesa delle Monache (the church of nuns) because it was the place of worship of the monastery of Santa Maria Del Latte. Also of great interest is La Ginestra – which for many years was a stopover point for pilgrims on their way to Rome. It then became a convent and is now a lively multidisciplinary workshop. Another place worth a visit is the Cappuccini hill, where you have a wonderful view of the whole city.
The medieval Palazzo del Podestà is also of note: it was looted and burnt by the troops of Charles V and then beautifully rebuilt.
Montevarchi is particularly proud of the Palaeontological Museum situated in the former Convent of San Lodovico. It contains many rare exhibits such as the complete cranium of an ancient Elephans Meridionalis.
However, the whole of via dei Musei is a surprise to be enjoyed slowly: the little antique shops and restoration workshops are truly delightful. On the fourth Sunday of every month the largest antique market of the area takes place on this street.
Via Roma, which runs parallel, is a more modern shopping street. The surrounding hills are full of castles and small medieval towns all set in the highly suggestive and beautiful Chianti landscape. The name Ricasoli is still well known and recalls Bettino – the Iron Duke – who was Prime Minister of the Reign of Italy after Cavour. He is also remembered for having modernized Chianti’s wine production industry. Not far from Moncioni castle is the ancient Pinetum – truly worth a visit. The Pinetum was created in 1850 in order to collect plants and trees from all over the world: giant sequoia trees, cedars and pines from the four corners of the earth seem to have found their ideal habitat here.
The Chianti area is one of the most distinctive and famous landscapes in the world: Its vineyards, castles, abbeys and ancient towns make it an unforgettable place to visit.