Colle di Val d'Elsa
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Spread over three gradients, Borgo, Castello and Piano (the Borough, Castle and Plain), Colle di Val d'Elsa is famous today for its production of fine handcrafted crystal, but it is also an important tourist destination. The Borough is entered through the monumental Porta Nova and winds its long and narrow way in a sequence of fine 16th and 17th-century noble houses to the magnificent, though unfinished, Palazzo Campana, which marks the entry to the Castle, the oldest part of Colle di Val d'Elsa.
Here, the atmosphere suddenly changes: narrow paved lanes, fascinating tower- houses (amongst these stands the one where Arnolfo di Cambio was born), steeply sloping streets and flights of steps. Piazza del Duomo is overlooked by the Praetorial Court, the seat of the Archaeological Museum, the Cathedra, the Bishops's Palle, housing the Museum of Sacred Art, and the picturesque Via delle Volte, the most characteristic corner of the Colle di Val d'Elsa.
Passing little churches and 13th-century buildings, one reaches the Rampart with its fine view over the Plain on which the most modern part of Colle is built. This area, too, is not lacking in points of interest, such as the Churches of Saint Augustine (13th century in origin, but rebuilt in the '500 by Antonio da Sangallo).
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