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  • Castello di Catignano
  • Catignano, Gambassi Terme
  • Italy
  • Tuscany
  • Florence
  • Gambassi Terme



  • The Italian Database is the result of a collaboration between:

    MIBAC (Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali - Direzione Generale per i Beni Archeologici),

    ICCD (Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione) and

    AIAC (Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica).

  • AIAC_logo logo

Summary (English)

  • The excavation of the castle of Catignano had as its main objective the collection of new data which would aid in the diachronic reconstruction of settlement and production dynamics in this territory and shed light on the inherent problems of the transition from late antiquity to the medieval period. Its position along a stretch of the via Francigena and via Volterrana, provided the possibility for making a closer examination of the medieval road network. The synergy of the data gained from historical sources and archaeology should make it possible to establish the castle’s typology, reconstruct its evolution and check whether an early medieval village developed there, as the toponym of Roman predial origin would appear to indicate.

    Catignano castle was one of the earliest of the twelve castles included in the census of the municipality of Gambassi. It was first mentioned as a castrum in 1075, but the toponym already appeared in 1007. It was the home of the Cadolingi counts, under whom it probably underwent incastellamento. When this family line came to an end in 1113 it became the property of the Alberti and the bishops of Florence and Volterra. In 1237 it became a municipality together with Varna, under the jurisdiction of San Gimignano, although remaining autonomous. Amongst the entourage of the Cadolingi the nobiles of Catignano stand out. They held power until the end of the 13th century, when the castle was annexed by a Florentine contado. In 1313, on the passage of Arrigo VII in the Valdelsa, it was partly dismantled. It suffered further damage in 1325 during the war against Castruccio. The plague epidemics of 1348 and 1363 caused further degradation.
    It continued to survive as a municipality and in 1537 corrected and formulated its own statutes. In 1564 the population was constituted by ten families.

    In the 2008 campaign three excavation areas were opened on the summit of the hill. The investigations produced the following results: – the uncovering of substantial tracts of the curtain wall on the south side and of a square tower. The walls were abandoned in 14th-15th century, the tower in the 16th century. – The walls of at least five rooms were uncovered. Room B was destroyed by fire during the second half of the 15th century: the finds recovered (a shield boss, arrow head, sword) attest a siege. In the 16th century new structures were built upon the collapses of the earlier buildings (not yet excavated). Of the new structures patches of terracotta floors came to light in rooms A, B and C. These were robbed in the 17th century. – Between the 18th and 20th century the summit was sporadically occupied. Continuity of use of the towers seems probable.
    Residual fragments of jars datable to the 10th-12th century and a fragment of an Attic vase attest the prolonged use of the site, the substance and nature of which will be defined by future excavation campaigns which will extend investigations to the whole of the summit area.

  • Sabrina Bartali - Associazione Archeologica Valdelsa Fiorentina 
  • Marja Mendera - Università degli Studi di Siena 
  • Benjamin Tixier - Università degli Studi di Siena 


  • Marco Valenti - Università degli Studi di Siena, Dipartimento di Archeologia e Storia delle Arti


Research Body

  • Università degli Studi di Siena

Funding Body

  • Comune di Gambassi Terme
  • Earthwatch Institute, Massachussets


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