Borgo a Buggiano

Borgo is a town in the Val di Nievole, now the administrative centre of the Commune of Borgo a Buggiano, which had grown up already before the year 1000 at the foot of the Buggiano stronghold and at the crossing of a Roman road with the Traversa which, joining the Romea, connected the Val di Nievole to the Valdarno. Leonardo represents it on map RL 12685 (Windsor Castle) as well as in Madrid Ms. II (f. 23r). It was the birthplace of Andrea di Lazzaro Cavalcanti, the favourite pupil of Brunelleschi and his collaborator on many of the most important works in Florence. The grandiose Bellavista Villa was built in the second half of the 17th century for Marchese Francesco Feroni, the descendent of a family that came from Vinci.


Buggiano is a stronghold of very ancient origin rebuilt after the wars between Guelphs and Ghibellines, important for Florentine domination of the Val di Nievole. Leonardo represents it on map RL 12685 (Windsor Castle) and on f. 23r of Madrid Ms. II, on the route from Prato to Villa Basilica. Surviving today are the fortress and village with its gates, the abbey church with noteworthy Romanesque sculptures and the Palazzo del Podestà.

Colle di Buggiano

The stronghold of Colle (in the Commune of Buggiano) was built in 1238 after the destruction of Castiglion Vecchio. Leonardo shows it on map RL 12685 for the project for deviating the Arno, on the route between Pistoia and Buggiano, and mentions it in Madrid Ms. II (f. 23r). Notable at Colle di Buggiano is the tower with the bell of the "smarrita", or lost one, showing that it belonged to the monks of San Jacopo ad Altopascio: in both places, the bell tolled to indicate the road to travellers who had lost their way.


Leonardo represents the stronghold of Collodi on map RL 12685, drawing stenographically but evoking a view from life of the town sloping down a hillside (at the foot of which we now find the Garzoni Garden and the Pinocchio Park). He also indicates it in Madrid Ms. II (f. 23r), in the itinerary from Serravalle Pistoiese to Villa Basilica. It is located in the Commune of Pescia.


Cozzile, incorporated in the Commune of Massa e Cozzile, was a stronghold in the Middle Ages, of which two towers remain. Leonardo indicates its distance from Pistoia: 7 miles, on the route toward the Pescia valley, on the maps for deviating and channelling the Arno (RL 12685 and in Madrid Ms. II, f. 23r).


Massa, today the administrative centre of the Commune of Massa e Cozzile, is represented by Leonardo with its medieval fortifications. He draws it on the maps for the canal and the deviation of the Arno (RL 12685 and Madrid Ms. II, f. 23r), on the route from Pistoia to the Valle del Pescia.

Montecatini Alto

By "Monte Catino" Leonardo represents Montecatini Alto, one of the strongholds that dominated the Val di Nievole toward Serravalle Pistoiese. It was one of the localities evidenced in the projects for the channelling and deviation of the Arno (RL 12685 and Madrid Ms. II, f. 23r and especially in the surveys on folio 3r). In the historic centre can be seen Romanesque churches, towers, gates, monasteries and fortifications..

Montecatini Terme

By "Bagno" Leonardo refers to the thermal baths of Montecatini, made famous already in the early 15th century by the treatise "De Balneis" by Ugolino, who dedicates a chapter his city 's "New Bath" (today's Tettuccio Baths): "It abounds in waters and was built in 1370 by our Magnificent Florentine Lords". Leonardo indicates it on map RL 12685 and on f. 23r of Madrid Ms. II.


A centre of art and commerce, rich in civil and religious documentation, Pescia boasts a long and prestigious tradition of craftsmanship, linked chiefly to the sector of paper products. Situated at the confluence of major thoroughfares of communication, the city was the birthplace of Baldassare Turini, who was the datary of Pope Leo X Medici, a client of Leonardo's and collector of Raphael's works; on his tomb in the cathedral Pierino da Vinci, Leonardo's nephew, also worked. Leonardo represents the town on map RL 12685, on f. 23r of Madrid Ms. II; the river of the same name is also indicated on map RL 12277.


The stronghold of Stignano, already in the 13th century united to the Commune of Buggiano, is indicated da Leonardo in the margin to the project for the Arno Canal on map RL 12685 and in Madrid Ms. II (f. 23r). Coluccio Salutati, a man of letters and chancellor of the Florentine Republic, was born here in 1331.


The fortress of Uzzano was considered impregnable unless betrayed (as was done in 1334 by Beltramon del Balzo in favour of the Florentines); it was partially demolished in 1832. Leonardo represents it on the hill above Pescia in RL 12685 and in Madrid Ms. II (f. 23r).

Texts by
Alessandro Vezzosi, in collaboration with Agnese Sabato / English translation by Catherine Frost