“Who goes to Santa Fiora, falls in love with it.” This is an ancient saying of the area of Mount Amiata and we cannot disagree. This village, suspended between water and music, is considered as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and in 2016 obtained the orange flag for tourism thanks to its history, nature, culture and environment.
The town is even mentioned in the divine comedy, not because of its beauty as one might imagine, but because of its decadence and gloom. Just in the darkest moment of its history (XV century), thanks to the Sforza family, the village begins its re-flourishing and will thus become one of the most economically relevant countries in the Amiata area. Take for example the source, the Fiora aqueduct which supplies water to a vast territory and the cinnabar mine.
What to see in Santa Fiora
Let’s now enter the ancient medieval village, the most characteristic part of the country. We can only start from the Castello district where we find the remains of the imposing Aldobrandeschi Castle. In the medieval Piazza Garibaldi you can see the majestic clock tower and the Sforza Cesarini palace. To date, part of it is used as a municipal seat and another as a mining museum.
Continuing our walk between history and art, we stop in Piazza San Michele where a life-size and peperino statue of the saint himself tramples on the devil. The parish church of Saints Flora and Lucilla is embellished not only for the travertine rose window, but above all for the presence of the glazed terracotta works of Luca and Andrea della Robbia.
From here on we will meet many other religious and historical places in the Santafiorese village, starting right from the Sanctuary of the Holy Crucifix. Continuing the itinerary, we come across the church of Sant’Agostino where there is a 15th century wooden crucifix, the convent of the Poor Clares and the area of the Jewish ghetto. Very particular is the Church of the Madonna delle nevi where, thanks to the glass floor, you can admire the springs.
Along our walk through the medieval streets, we linger in some breathtaking panoramic views from which we have noticed the wonders of nature. The points that attract our attention are: the convent of the S.S. Trinità, the Petorsola stone and Monte Labro. Everything is surrounded by unspoiled nature. From these vantage points, if we move our gaze downwards, a very large basin fed by the sources of the Fiora stands out before us: this is the so-called Peschiera.
It is an original structure created by the Aldobrandeschi. In the beginning it was designed as a trout nursery and later as a park-garden. To date, both activities are carried out, as it is both a macrostigma trout nursery, in extinction, and a well-kept park, open especially in the summer months. At the beginning of our trip we talked about a country suspended between water and music, so far we have spoken about water but music?
Santa Fiora and music
Music is a key element for the culture of the village and one of the most characteristic events takes place mainly in the Peschiera: it is “Santa Fiora in musica”. It is an international music festival, celebrated in the summer months, which connects classical and jazz music. In S. Fiora, during the year, there are also other musical evenings where it is possible to attend the live performances of the choir and the Santafiorese band. In short, the musical footprint flows in the artistic veins of citizens.
Festivals, reviews and events
In the summer months, Santa Fiora and the towns belonging to the municipality, like the rest of Mount Amiata, are populated with events, festivals and festivals. This is the right time to have fun, have dinner with friends, drink a good wine and get lost in the starry sky. The festivals that attract the most are: the Acquacotta festival, the mushroom and brown festival, the Dragon festival and the Madonna delle Nevi festival. The medieval village is active throughout the year and there are some peculiar events, among others, that deserve to be narrated to better understand the country’s roots and history.
On the evening of January 5 we have the traditional songs of the Epiphany, where the villagers go from door to door singing typical verses and warming up with a few glasses of wine. Very special is the feast of the Crosses, May 3rd, where the miraculous crucifix guides the procession through the town. July 29 is the feast of the patrons Flora and Lucilla, and it is possible to attend the popular parade with medieval costumes. To end, on 30 December the end of the year is celebrated with the famous torchlight procession, where stacks of wood are burned throughout the country.
Thus ended our journey through the history and culture of one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. If there is an image that can summarize what Santa Fiora can transmit, it must be identified within the Peschiera. On clear summer nights, defended by a medieval structure, wrapped in trees and supported by rocks, the echo of the notes is reflected in the body of water, forming a unique synergy that is able to enter the soul of the spectator thanks to “the love that moves the sun and the other stars”.