Here, in Sant’Andrea in Percussina, where I tend to my vines and family matters, I, Niccolo’ Machiavelli, have found refuge from events in Florence, fatal for me. Next door there’s the Hosteria, a continual source of refreshment for me, for the labours borne in my long office, tasting that which the land has made into marvellous fruit. From the terrace of my villa, here in Sant'Andrea, I spend months, awaiting the seasons and I see the skin of these hills change, when Autumn arrives and everything turns off and the “the cellars of wine at the inn opposite” fills with flavours and aromas, and new life.
Negotiation hour is over and to me it feels like a time for happy laziness can begin. In the morning I wake up with the sun, and I head into the woods for a walk, listening to the sounds of nature, which clash with my memories of the voices and shouts of the city markets. I take some old classics with me as company on my silent strolls, until I encounter one wood cutter or another, who always has some misfortune on his hands, among themselves or with their neighbours. The San Casciano people are genuine; I disturb them when my cries reach the town as I play at cricca, at tric-trac. Despite missing my office, workmates and friends, and who knows if I will ever be able to return to them, the time that I have in abundance here helps me to concentrate, to reflect and seek inspiration for my works of intelligence and passion that may eventually give guidance to those, after us, who will shape the human destiny. Talking about the future, the people of San Casciano celebrated the 500th anniversary of the composition of my Prince on the stage of Teatro Niccolini with a lecture cycle featuring illustrious men of letters.
From up here, from the 34 metres of the old water tower now restored to its former glory, we can see as far as the Apuane Alps and the Pisan Mountains, to Vallombrosa and the delicate embroidery of the Pistoia Apennines. Closer still, we see the gentle Chianti hills near Florence and Siena dotted with olives and vines. Even more, from here, you can see and hear the history of these places: Machiavelli who writes his “Prince” in Sant’Andrea, the medieval walls of San Casciano, the villas and churches in his neighbourhood…
Historic villas of noble families, farmhouses where you can still smell wine and oil, churches and chapels nestled in the countryside. This is how I discovered the treasures hidden in that town of wonders: Villa Mangiacane and Villa Le Corti, the castles of Bibbione and Gabbiano, Villa Caserotta and Poggio Torselli… This is how I glimpsed the little churches of Castelbonsi and Vicolabate, San Pancrazio and Campoli, in a continual weaving of works and landscapes built by humans that blend together harmoniously.
If you place a hand on the ancient walls of San Casciano you can still feel the sweat of those who, in the mid fourteenth century, worked to build them on the orders of the Florence Republic. From the top of the Chianti tower you can still make out its original hexagonal shape, with the bridge house forming the perfect prow of this ship crossing the heart of the countryside. And you can picture the sieges, attacks and ruin, reaching the last scars left by the passage of the front in 1944.