Casole d’Elsa is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Siena in the Italian region Tuscany, located about 50 km southwest of Florence and about 25 km west of Siena. It is a charming medieval hilltop town situated in wonderful countryside around Siena. It is situated 70km from Florence and 35km from the town of Siena. Originally it was a domain of the Bishop of Volterra but in the middle of the 13th century it passed under the control of Siena. The Sienese strengthened the fortifications because of its strategical position. In 1554 Casole surrended, after strenuous resistance, to the imperial and Florentine armies during the war against Siena. The dualism between Siena and Volterra still survives in the daily life of Casole for political purposes it is in the Province of Siena, whereas it falls under the Diocese of Volterra for religious matters. Verrocchio Art School Tuscany Italy.
The shape of Casole is roughly an elongated pear; it is about 400 metres long (North-South) and about 130 metres wide (East-West). The medieval walls, mainly visible on the Westside of the town, enclose it. In the middle of the village runs the main street from north to south, dividing it into two nearly symmetrical parts. View in the direction of San Gimignano.
The countryside surrounding Casole is breathtaking. On a clear day one can see north as far as Apennines on the borders of Tuscany with Emilia Romagna, to the North east the hills of Chianti, to the east the mountains of the Casentino behind Arezzo and the hills of Montagnola, behind which is Siena. Looking south, following the valley of the river Elsa one can see right down to Monte Amiata at the extreme south of Tuscany, and the Metalliferrous hills with their characteristic jets of sulphurous steam.
The church of San Niccolò, of Romanesque origin, has a nave and four aisles divided by columns and semicolumns, with two semicircular apses with mullioned windows. The central portal is from the early 14th century, while the portico is modern. It has 17th century frescoes by Rustichino and, at the high altar, one 14th century Madonna of the Sienese School.
The collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta was consecrated in 1161; of the original Romanesque edifice, the façade remains with the bell tower. The upper part is decorated with blinds arches divided by slender semicolumns. The transept is from the 14th century. The interior houses the tombs of Beltramo Aringhieri, by Marco Romano (early 14th century), and of bishop Tommaso Andrei, by Gano di Fazio (1303). Annexed to the church is a Museum of Sacred Art with works by Domenico di Michelino, Alessandro Casolani and others.
The Pieve of San Giovanni Battista, at Mensano, is also from the 12th century. Notable are the sculpted capitals of the columns dividing nave and aisles, considered amongst the finest examples of Romanesque sculpture in the Siena area. From the same period and style is the Pieve di San Giovanni Battista, at Pievescola.
Casole d’Elsa is also home to the world renowned Verrocchio Art Centre offering fine art courses, painting holidays, sculpture courses, studios and accommodation. Nigel Konstam is the resident director and a sculptor whose work is firmly based in the European tradition.
1. The Rocca
2. Church of Holy Spirit
3. Palazzo Pretorio
4. Palazzo Casolani
5. The Collegiate
6. Church of St. Peter
7. Church of St. Niccol