Colle Val d'Elsa, a town with a view
Colle val d'Elsa is a quaint town in the province of Siena whose most ancient part sits on the top of a hill: it is divided, in fact, into Colle Alta (the highest part of the town, built on a hilltop) and Colle Bassa (that lying at the feet of the hill).
Due to its position - close to both Florence and Siena - Colle Val d'Elsa has always been the object of these two cities' ancient rivality and then passed under their control alternatively. Many Etruscan and Roman remains have also been found in Colle and its surroundings, testifying the presence of both civilazations during past times. The famous Via Francigena - the road through which pilgrims used to walk for reaching Rome from France and viceversa - passed right through the upper part of the Val d'Elsa (or Elsa Valley), ensuring all the area wealthy conditions and economical benefits.
The heart of the lower part of Colle is Piazza Arnolfo di Cambio, named after the famous sculptur and architect that was born right here around 1240: this square is considered the most important social, cultural and economical place of the town and is worthy your while without any doubt.
Colle Val d'Elsa is also renowned for its tower-houses built in the historical center, most of which have been destroyed during centuries, except of a few interesting, among which one particularly stands out: the Arnolfo di Cambio tower house, that is the very same house where he was born and lived, recently restored and brought to its ancient spendour. Close to this tower, there's another interesting building to see, the Palazzo Masson, built at the end of the XIXth century. Anyhow, the most panoramic place of the old town is maybe the Baluardo, the protecting bastion situated at the end of the Castle - how the oldest part is usually referred to as - that overlooks the lower part of the town and all the valley below, included the enchanting hills fo Chianti.
Today Colle Val d'Ela is famous for the production of crystal items; there's also a museum dedicated to this activity, the Crystal Museum, that we recommend visiting together with the Civic and Sacred Art Museum and the Archaeological Museum.
Stepping towards south not far from the main town, there's a place called Le Caldane, natural hot thermal spings whose waters are renowned since ancient times for their curative properties: there are several pools, all dating back to the XIIIth century, destroyed and then partially restored during the XVth and XIXth centuries: a place we strongly suggest you visit if you want to enjoy some relax after venturing out to the discovery of this charming town.