Semifonte - Petrognano
Ancient village with an evocative past history
Semifonte was a fortified city, which at the end of the twelfth century became an opposing fair in Florence. Today it is only the toponym of a town near Petrognano, a hamlet in the municipality of Barberino Val d'Elsa, in the province of Florence.
The name derives from the Latin Summus Fons (source of water at the top of a hill), which later became Summofonte and finally Semifonte. The castle at first and then the city were founded around 1177 by the count of Prato Alberto IV degli Alberti, becoming, in short, one of the most powerful centers of the Valdelsa, as well as imperial stronghold in the area. This new power was immediately frowned upon by the Florentine republic, which opposed it in every way and which succeeded in defeating it in the short space of twenty years. In 1202, Semifonte, after a siege started in 1198, was defeated, conquered and immediately razed to the ground by the troops of Florence, who had wanted to punish an adversary to their expansionist aims.
After the destruction, Florence decreed that no building could ever be built on that hill. This prohibition has, in fact, been respected to this day, with the exception of the Chapel of San Michele, erected in 1597 on the top of the hill by Santi di Tito project, which obtained with difficulty the approval of Ferdinando I de' Medici, then Grand Duke of Tuscany.