Castled on the Tuscan hills between the badlands that repeatedly transform the landscape with their landslips, near to Volterra and Palaia, we meet the ghost town of Toiano delle Brota, that’s accessible throughout a road surrounded by tuff pillars similar to cathedral’s columns and high up to 50 meters. The road ends in the village, and it used to be a drawbrige that protected the hamlet during the Middle Ages.
The hamlet of Lari traces its origins back to the Etruscan age, but the village saw its importance increasing during the Middle Ages thanks to its castle, that soon became one of the most strategical fortresses of the area.
After the conquest of Pisa by the Florentines in 1406, the city, once cradle of medieval arts, saw many of its artists on the wane, replaced by the artists coming from Florence, the new master of the area.
Benozzo Gozzoli was born in Lese but he moved to Florence when he was still a child, and he spent the early part of his career as a pupil and assistant of Fra Angelico, better known as the Beato Angelico (the Blessed Angelic) for the elegance of his painting.
Near to Lajatico, on the road that connects the Valdera with the Valdicecina, 532 mt. on the sea level and on top of the hill surrounding the countryside, we come across one of the most ancient defensive buildings in the region of Valdera.
The fortress of Pietracassia takes its name from the crack in the rock that marks out the hill where the fortress was built (“pietra cassa” meaning “broken rock“), but following other interpretations the name could refer to the Roman triumvir Cassio: the location of this building was already known in Etruscan times for its closeness with the important copper mine of Montecatini, and without any doubt the place was known by Romans too.
Unlike many other cities in Italy, for many years Pisa and its countryside have had their one, different, calendar.