The territory of the municipality of Rignano sull'Arno is situated in a zone that is prevalently hilly, south- east of Florence, in the Upper Valdarno, in the curve created by the river Arno on the left bank of which the administrative centre is located. Probably a roman settlement (hence of toponym), informations regarding Rignano were found starting in the year 1000, as a town that arose in the vicinity of the parish church of San Leolino, and as the ruined castle in the 12th century, in its present location in the village of Casa Rignano on the hill that dominate the administrative centre. The development of the present settlement probably derives from the building of the bridge over the river Arno, a bridge that has marked the life of the town and that floods have often destroyed. It became a commune in 1773 by decision of Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo, who formed the new entity of Rignano by detaching thirteen "masses" from Pontassieve. Rignano sull'Arno is birthplace of Lapo da Castiglionchio, Vespasiano da Bisticci and of the painter Ardengo Soffici.  

san leolino

Pieve di San Leolino

To explain and illustrate the territory of Rignano sull'Arno, we can begin from Rosano convent of Santa Maria, founded in 780. As it is inscribed on the façade it was donated by the Guidi family during the 11th century, and underwent numerous enlargements, as testified by two cloisters, one of the 16th century and one of the 18th, the former bearing the touch of Michelozzo. In 1810 it suffered the Napoleonic suppression, as well as another period at the end of the century, the passing of the war and the 1966 flood. Run by the cloistered Benedictine nuns, the complex was restructured in 1966 by architect Guido Morozzi. The Romanesque church, with three naves resting on quadrangular pillars and the 1523 portal in the facade, has been restored to its 14th century form. On one side, the 12th century bell tower soars upward with sets of single, double and triple mullioned windows. Inside the church, there is a 1430 triptych by Giovanni dale Ponte, a rare 13th century Crucifix by Maestro di Vico and a baptismal font from 1423. The vaulted crypt still preserves part of the Romanesque apse, transformed in 16th century during the enlargement process and a lovely inlaid altar. The Christmas Mass, celebrated in Gregorian chant, at which the cloistered nuns assist, is very lovely. At the guest House it is possible to purchase items of embroidery hand-done by the nuns. Near at Rosano convent is Castiglionchio a villa used as a tourist complex: it raises over an ancient castle, a stronghold that was partially destroyed by the Gibellines after the battle of Monteaperti in 1260; rebuilt, one century later it was destroyed once again.       

San Lorenzo

Pieve di San Lorenzo a Miransu'

 Continuing in the direction of Villamagna we can find the church of San Lorenzo at Miransù, an ancient religious edifice that was already well-known during the first decades of the 11th century, structured in its present form during the 14th century, retouched in 1886 and definitively renovated in the years 1966-68. The church has three naves delineated by arches that are supported by quadrangular pillars with a semicircular apse. The crenellated bell tower is incorporated into the church; the coats of arm of the patron of the village are preserved on the beautiful facade. Volognano was an ancient ghibelline possession, subsequently transformed into a villa with neo-gothic accents. In the church of San Michele that was rebuilt at the end of the 19th century, are preserved an altarpiece of 1514 by Mariotto Albertinelli, a Madonna and Child by Lorenzo di Bicci and a Madonna of the Ribbon by the Maestro di Volognano, an unknown master near Domenicio Puligo and Rosso Fiorentino.



Just outside Le Corti, a detour leads to Antica holding: it rises from the ruins of the castle that was damaged by the Ghibellines after the battle of Montaperti in 1260. Medieval vestiges remains among which the sides of the Romanesque church of Sant'Andrea which today is a barn. Continuing we find a detour for San Cristoforo in Perticaia, now called monastery of Santa Maria in San Cristoforo, a church built in 11th century over antique ruins; it preserve an excellent portico with five arches and a triptych by Cenni di Francesco. Continuing in the direction of San Donato in Collina on the right can be noted the vaulted bell tower of the Badiuzza degli Ughi an ancient church built by the vallombrosan monks in the 12th century which stills has a gothic scarsella preserved. Next to it, accessible by foot is the Monasteraccio in Casignano, a building founded in 1311 and suppressed in 1502, according to a legend, because of the transgressive behaviour of the Benedictine monks with respect of the rules of the order. There remain the ruins of a wall and of a tower with gothic arch. 

San Piero

Chiesa di San Piero 


San Cristoforo

Chiesa di San Cristoforo a Perticaia


San Michele a Volognano
Chiesa di San Michele a Volognano



Torre all'Isola

Torre all'Isola


Torre a Cona

Torre a Cona

Continuing on Provincial Road 1 "the Aretina", we can reach the spectacular villa of Torre a Cona formerly the property of Quona family, then of the Rinuccini family and today of the Rossi di Montelera. It was built over the ruins of an ancient castle. The large building catches the eye because of the exellent18th façade and with two sets of windows and the play realised by a fine system of staircases. A driveway lined with cypress trees and the Italian style garden complete the villa, which is among the most beautiful of its era. A short distance away is the locality of Troghi, a village where in the past worked many mills and furnaces. Near is the villa of Poggio Francoli, built at the end of the 16th century by the Arcispedale of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence in the style of Bernardo Buontalenti with a square design and pavilion roof surmounted by a central turret. Poggio Francoli is located in a charmig area that connects the small village of Cellai, surmounted by the Romanesque church of Santa Lucia a Bisticci and the ruins of the homonym castle, and the Pian dell'Isola, an area near the river Arno dominated by the 11th century Torre all'Isola, an imposing watch-tower well preserved and recently restored. In this area are located many farms and farm holidays with evocatives names such as Fontepetrini, Frassine, Poggio and Camporali.


L'Abbazia di Santa Maria a Rosano

THE PIEVE OF SAN LEOLINO IN RIGNANO SULL'ARNO We first hear of the Pieve di San Leolino in Rignano sull'Arno as early as 1066 in a document of the lost San Pier Maggiore Monastery in Florence, recording its donation by Donna Gisla, the widow of Azzo di Pagano. Pope Pasquale II also mentioned the church in 1103. Nine churches were dependent upon the 'Pieve' and in its turn, the Pieve was one of the 36 dioceses of Fiesole. It is interesting to note that the San Leolino Church was privileged enough to have a Baptismal Font. St. Leolino was a Bishop who lived in the III century A.D. and was martyrised in Val di Sieve. In the 9th and 10th centuries it was probably the Guidi Counts (powerful , feudal Counts from the Romagnolo region) who encouraged the worship of St. Leolino when they took possession of the Casentino and Valdarno regions. This would probably explain the presence of four other churches dedicated to the worship of San Leolino in a rather small area: San Lorino in Monti (Londa); San Leolino in Val d'Ambra (Bucine); San Leolino in Conio (Castellina in Chianti); San Leolino a Panzano (near Greve).
We can see that the church has three aisles, divided by square sectioned pillars sustaining arches and terminating in three semi-circular apses, of which, the central one is the largest. If we examine the structure of the Pieve, we can find characteristic architectural aspects, particular to the Ancient Roman period. Although the church has been recently restored, the posterior, the three apses, part of the Nave, and the lower part of the bell tower are dated from the original building. The upper part of the bell tower, which has four open arches surrounded by wedge-shaped stone of an alternate green and white colour , is very similar to the bell tower in the San Pietro a Ripoli church built at a later date. Today, only the area housing the two final arches is part of the original church, the anterior part ( i.e. the three remaining arches) is a new construction, probably built in the 18th century as a result of the devastating effects of earthquakes. These earthquakes completely destroyed the façade, which had to be totally rebuilt. During the past centuries, the church has been enriched with many works of art: paintings, frescoes, statues etc. After a new church was built in the centre of Rignano sull'Arno in 1954, the Pieve was no longer used, in fact it was practically abandoned, leading to its consequent degradation. Some of the works of art that were originally in the church are today conserved in the new church in Rignano sull'Arno, others, have simply been lost, perhaps forever. When the Pieve was restored in 1995/2002, two important frescoes were also restored, the first is a work of art from the late 14th century depicting 'The Crowning of the Virgin among the Angels and Saints', which can be found on the left-hand side of the church. The second, smaller fresco, 'The Madonna Breastfeeding' which can be found on the right-hand side of the church), is from the early 15th century and has been attributed to the Florentine artist Bicci di Lorenzo. The restoration of the fresco 'The Crowning of the Virgin' enabled us to discover the sinopite ( i.e. the original rough sketch by the artist) which can be found in front of the fresco. On the left-hand side of the main entrance we can see the glazed earthenware Baptismal Font, attributed to the school of Santi Buglioni from the 16th century, of great interest are the stories of St. John the Baptist engraved on the font.