"Colle Alta", up on a hill made of clay, keeps unchanged its image of medieval town, quiet, protected from the modernity by its high and imposing city walls. Entering by the ancient arcade of Palazzo del Campana you can reach the Castello, whose endless evocations will lead you to a timeless atmosphere with spots out of reality: towers, bulwarks, palaces, churches, arches... with unbelievable charming panoramic views.
The tourist will find himself to admire the imposing Duomo, Palazzo dei Priori a true gem of architecture of the 14th Century, Palazzo Pretorio and the ex Conservatory of San Pietro del Vasari. Well kept are some medieval building: Palazzo Campana, the Teatro dei Varii, unique of this kind and one of the most charming theatre in Italy, the Convento di San Francesco and the mysterious via Delle Volte, a medieval tunnel long more than 100 meters that from Piazza del Duomo bring you back to via del Castello. An authentic moment of fascination is offered by the characteristics places where to stop along the way, and enjoy a good glass of Chianti, and from the ancient shops and workshops that keep their old charm and where lead-glass crystal is still handmade.
Our itinerary in Upper part of Colle end with a panoramic view, from the height of Baluardo, medieval bastion that dominates the city and arrival point of the lift that connects the Upper and Lower part of the town, designed by Jean Nouvel. In fact, the famous French architect, is the author of an ambitious intervention of urban and architectural renovation that gives to the town a completely brand new and innovative aspect.
Opposite the unspoilt Historic Centre, is "Colle Bassa", the lower part of the town, modern and lively but still typical and rich of interesting monuments, such as the Gothic Cathedral of Sant'Agostino, the San Salvatore Church and the wide Piazza Arnolfo where in the 19th Century was set the Railway Station, with high arcades and now deeply involved in the innovating project by Jean Nouvel.
MUSEUMS AND LIBRARIES
The Civic Museum of Sacred Art, inside the Palazzo dei Priori, has an important collection of medieval finds and one of the richest collection of art of the Valdelsa area between VI and XX century.
The Archeological Museum Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli, located in the Palazzo Pretorio, is one of the most important Etruscan museum of Italy for its incredible and unique collection of finds of the necropolis of the Valdelsa area.
The Crystal Museum is the only museum in Italy dedicated to lead-glass crystal, and it shows a secular art that made of creativity and quality its distinguishing characteristics.
Also the Public Library displays, beside a wide heritage ancient and modern, many archives.
To talk about Colle Val D'Elsa, with all its traditions, history and culture, is a difficult thing, but you could experience a small part of the life that was going on in the past inside the city walls, participating to characteristic events and happenings that are organized every year.
Cristallo tra le mura - Crystal within the city walls - An event dedicated to the famous lead-glass crystal of Colle Val D'Elsa takes place every year in September. This event is an itinerary that has both display locations to show the masterpieces of lead-glass crystal and workshop to show how the process of crystal works by the professional hands of great craftsmen. Further in this occasion, are also some places for tasting and comparing Tuscan food and wine.
Festa del Sacro Chiodo - Festival of the Sacred Nail - In Colle Val d'Elsa, is kept, in accordance with tradition, one of the nails of the Crucifixion of Christ. It's kept in the Cathedral, in a tabernacle by Mino da Fiesole. It's 22 centimeters long, and one side is well rounded while the other side is pointed and curved. According to tradition it was the one used to pierce the left foot of Christ. The sacred relic arrived in Colle in the 9th Century, after a long journey: it arrived in Italy from Palestine in the 326 from sant'Elena, mother of the emperor Costantino, and it became part of the Pope's treasures and in fact it was a Pope to donate it to a French bishop to bring it back home in France. But, before dying, he gave it to a farmer of Colle Val D'Elsa. Venerated for centuries, it's showed on a procession every year.