Greve in Chianti
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The natural growth of castle communities led to their general transfer to the valleys and to the consequent development of new settlements on more suitable flat land. The little town of Greve in Chianti, which lies in the valley of the river after which it is named, clearly originated in this way during the 13th-14th centuries. Two neighbouring castle communities, Montefioralle and Montegonzi, situated on the top of their respective hills, contributed to the birth of Greve in Chianti. The former could no longer contain its growing population whilst the latter was destroyed by the Florentines in one of the many campaigns against the powerful Lords of the Greve Valley. Two other factors made the site ideal for further expansion of this small centre; the presence of one of the fastest flowing Greve tributaries (the Montefioralle Gorge) and the fact that lies on the shortest route for reaching the Upper Arno Valley. Since it was almost equidistant between Florence and Siena, lying between the Arno and Elsa valleys, Greve in Chianti grew up in the 14th and 15th centuries as a centre of commerce. In 1745 Greve in Chianti numbered just 200 inhabitants and was smaller than Panzano, Montefioralle, Lamole, Lucolena and Cintoia. Only after the unification of Italy did (1861) the town become the most important centre in the valley.
Greve in Chianti is midway Florence and Siena, the two important centres of the Italian culture from middleage to renaissance. Such geographical position did influence the culture of the area, while keeping a certain originality which appears in the rural architecture as the structure of country houses, the arrangement of dry stone wall and in the construction of chapels and votive tabernacles, scattered here and there along in the country. Castles and churches are the most important buildings. During the 15th century the castle became a "villa" and a farm, so that even outside there were changes, as we can see at the castle of Uzzano. Churches and Pievi, in simple romanic style are scattered everywhere around the region. In spite of changes, during the centuries, most of the churches preserved their original and simple plan. The most beautiful of those churches are the "pievi" of San Leonino and San Cresci. The heritage of sculpture is consistent, especially in a group of "terracotte" by della Robbia school. Richer in its examples is painting, and in spite of the time decay, helped unfortunately and often by the hand of men, several important art works are still preserved. In paintings on wood and frescoes the cultural exchange between the near by cities is evident. In the "pieve" of San Leonino in Panzano we find a remarkable altar-frontal by Meliore di Jacopo (13th century). In the church of Montefioralle a Virgin and Child on wood, from the 13th century, is still perfectly preserved. A triptych by Bicci di Lorenzo (15th century) is in the church of Santa Croce in Greve in Chianti, and a paint on wood by Giotto school can be seen in the church "Parrocchiale" in San Polo in Chianti.