Semifonte  Castle

No more traces of the castle.


The site where Semifonte rose stands in the municipality of Barberino Valdelsa, on of a hill about 300 meters high above to the little village of Petrognano.


The Chapel

The zone of the Valdelsa, with the phenomenon of the 'Incastellamento' (fortification of the inhabitated areas) and the development of the feudal society, was rich of castles since the year 1100. This fortifications were in large part under the control of the counts of the Alberti family. Semifonte was one of these castles, one of the last to be built, that knew a period of big development and importance on the end of the 12th century, when it became, in the city state era, the last rampart of the feudal power that, thanks to the newcoming of the German emperors, try to resist to the Florentine expansion.

The hill where Semifonte rose was populated in a very few years starting from the beginning of 1181, and it became a thorn in the flank of the powerful Florence, supported by the emperor Enrico IV that didn't see of good eye the new city state expansion. It seems that the inhabitants, too much sure of their strength, gambled with the death singing the well known refrain 'Firenze fatti in là Semifonte si fà città' (Florence move aside, Semifonte's to grow far and wide) under the city walls of Florence. The reaction of Florence was merciless and in 1202, after a long siege, Semifonte was completely shaved to the ground, today we would say 'in scientific mode': nothing, neither the memory, didn't have even to stay. An edict imposed the absolute prohibition to reconstruct on the top of the hill. To remember Semifonte there are today only few ruins englobed in some farmer's houses on the hill and a chapel of the year 1597 with octagonal form, built thanks to a derogation at the edict, that reproduces in scale 1:8 the dome of the Cathedral of Florence. The scarce testimonies let us know that  the city was endowed of a fortified walled enclosure about three kilometers long with four gates and, at the vertex of the inhabited area, of a castle with central keep surrounded by quadrilateral walls and angular semi circular towers.


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