Hello all. I am sir Davidde Tanini, a shoe cobbler and historiographer-for-fun; by birth, I’m from Montale, 1749, but my true home has always been Montemurlo.
It’s now been three centuries since I’ve been back to my city, and I turned up today aboard this strange four-wheeled contraption that will take me around my land. But my, my, how everything has changed! This town is now full of factories—where have the farmers, who used to populate those immense stretches of green, all gone?
Now here I am in what was once my home: Villa Villani! Ah, what a surprise! I happily notice that it’s become a library—called Villa Giamari—those who know me know that to entertain myself, I always enjoyed reading historic books as a way of relaxing during my free time. I also delighted in writing a book as a way of remembering the local people’s matters, along with information about the castles of Montemurlo and Montale, even though there you won’t find the correct spelling that the project of a truly talented historiographer would demand… it’s not a question of will, but of ability. I made up for that lack, however, with the truthfulness of the facts presented.
How I’ve missed my villas! Who knows what they’re like today!
Coachman, take me there!
Here we are at Villa di Popolesco! We find it in the area known as “i’ Pantano.” It’s got the typical layout of a Montemurlo residence: comfortable and practical for agricultural activity. Moving along the current via Scarpettini, I notice, from a distance, a construction that I don’t recognize: a certain Villa Scarfantoni. Its construction, I read, dates to 1875. I feel a certain lethargy, but a pleasant one: what a combination! I notice, to my delight, that here you can try absolutely succulent delicacies!
At the slopes of the hill, in Bagnolo, the fascinating Villa di Galceto stands out. This place remains just as it was when the Doupouny family renovated it at the beginning of the 19th century: three floors which you access from an expansive staircase, which looks out onto the garden. After a few hundred meters, I end up at the Villa Strozzi: from my much-adored history books, I remember that this was the property of the Strozzi family from Florence up until the beginning of the 16th century, and that Piero Strozzi lived here. Piero headed up the anti-Medici revolt of 1537.
Finally, my favorite: Villa Pazzi a Parugiano! I loved the celebration that always took place during the month of May to commemorate Saint Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi – who knows if they still celebrate it today? “But of course!” the coachman tells me cheerily.
I direct my gaze northward and am struck by the imposing Villa del Barone, which was commissioned to Baccio Valori to construct at the beginning of the 16th century. I am then happy to learn that it was the residence of a well-known Macchiaiolo painter, Cristiano Banti, beginning in the mid-19th century.
I conclude my walk down memory lane in front of the Castle, which was the Guidi nobles’ court and a strategic battle outpost during the disputes between the Pistoians and the Florentines.
I soak in the panoramic view from the terrace of the magnificent Borgo della Rocca, which holds the parish church dedicated to San Giovanni Decollato (the beheaded Saint John). I recall a fresco that celebrated the tradition of the cross, today honored on May 3, just as it was in the past.