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He who has ears, let him hear, He who has eyes let him hear and see,
He who has hands let him hear see and do,
He who has feet let him hear see, do and walk,
He who has a mouth let him hear, see, do, walk and talk… and be silent,...
...and be silent... and talk

Kurt Wulf
The Three Bees

Elsa Valley

The Elsa Valley (Val d'Elsa) lies between Florence, Siena and Volterra. Traces of human activity date back to the Etruscan period, 6th century BC. Up until the 5th century AD, it was the site of a Roman colony known as "Agro Florentina". The area witnessed the intricate events of the Middle Ages, in particular the rule of the Lombards under King Desiderius and of the Franks under Charlemagne.

In the 10th century, the presence of the Via Francigena began drawing hordes of people from all across Europe, causing farming and trade to flourish.

From the 11th to the 13th centuries, a new form of society took root around the townships of Città-Castello di Castelfiorentino, Certaldo, Semifonte, Barberino Val d'Elsa, Poggibonsi, Colle Val d'Elsa, San Gimignano, Casole d'Elsa and Monteriggioni.

With the rise of the Ghibellines and the new Corporations of Arts and Crafts, the entire Elsa Valley experienced a surge in economy, manufacturing, legislation and administration.

The arts began to thrive, with a strong impetus in the realms of literature, painting and sculpture. In the early 13th century, the Elsa Valley fostered l'Arte dell'Ospitalità - the art of hospitality - with the opening of its first hotels, inns, workshops and traveling theater troupes. The pilgrimage made in 1350 by Friar Nicolò da Poggibonsi yielded one of the very first tour guides, the Libro d'Oltremare.