Montelupo Fiorentino

The town of “Montelupo Fiorentino” near Florence in Tuscany, Italy
Home of painted Tuscan ceramics and Tuscan majolica

Home Italian Majolica Map of Montelupo La Storia di Montelupo Villa Ambrogiana

Montelupo painted ceramic wine pot Montelupo painted ceramic jar Montelupo painted majolica jar Montelupo painted majolica wine pot
Antique examples of Italian majolica from Montelupo Fiorentino

 

Campanile of S. Lorenzo, Montelupo Fiorentino

Campanile of S. Lorenzo



Ceramics Museum
(former Palazzo Pretorio)





Frescobaldi Tower

Montelupo has undergone a significant revival as a town and as a manufactory of high-quality painted ceramics during the past ten years. There is a now fine majolica museum as well as an archaeological museum, and, of course, numerous workshops and outlets producing and selling hand-painted ceramics in both traditional and modern styles. The main reason for a visit to Montelupo is to admire and perhaps buy hand-painted majolica.

In antiquity, the territory of Montelupo, situated between Montalbano and the middle course of the Arno near where the
river Pesa flows into the Arno, was already an important crossroads on the communication route between the Florentine area, the Apennines and the Tyrrhenian coast. Its location on the old Roman road that joined Florence and Pisa and the presence of waterways led to the development of numerous manufacturing activities, including ceramics. 

Montelupo was probably founded with the construction of a castle at the end of the Early Middle Ages. The Florentine Republic, which took over the territory in 1204, rebuilt and enlarged the original military settlement. In the 14 C (1333-36) a new circle of walls, still visible in part, was constructed to protect the town that had developed at the foot of the hill on which the Priory of S. Lorenzo, built in the 13 C, still stands. During the 15 C and 16 C, the ceramics of Montelupo were particularly splendid.

At the end of the 16 C, the Medici built a large villa on the left bank of the Arno in the neighboring locality of the
Ambrogiana. In the 19 C it was turned into a prison asylum, the Ospedale Psichiatrico Giudiziario, but it is now being restored. 

The disastrous epidemics of the 17 C that reduced the population of Italy as a whole had devastating effects on Montelupo, virtually destroying it as a centre of ceramic production. There was a modest revival during the second half of the 18 C along with the growth in glass production. With the construction of the railway line from Florence to Pisa, there was a revival of ceramic production in nearby Capraia, and in the early 20 C the centre of production was once more Montelupo.

Every year the town relives its history with a show of its ceramics in a festival that takes place approximately from 22 to 30 June (be sure to check the dates). The town's inhabitants dress in period costumes to recreate the ancient atmosphere with minstrels, merchants and artisans.

Things to see in Montelupo Fiorentino

The Castle of Montelupo

On top of the hill which overlooks Montelupo, “Il castello” is the remains of the first Florentine military settlement of 1204-06, where there had previously been a small “castellare”, probably belonging to the counts Alberti. In the area above, there is the first church in Montelupo, the Old Priory of San Lorenzo, dated 1260, whose present appearance goes back to the 15 C. Inside there is a series of frescoes by Corso di Buono (1282) and two small Gothic tabernacles painted by Piero di Chellino (The life of San Nicola). The bell tower was built using the existing tower of the keep.

The Palazzo Pretorio

In the village at the foot of the castle you can see the Palazzo Pretorio, present home of the Ceramic Museum. The coat of arms of the “podestà” who governed the town on behalf of the City of Florence are set into the façade. Inside there are frescoes from the 15 C and remains of the original decorations.

Priory of S. Giovanni Evangelista

The present Priory, originally an almshouse run by Dominican monks, acquired its present appearance in 1796. It houses some notable works of art: a fresco of 1340-50 which has been detached from the wall, a 14 C wooden cross, a large altar-piece and a painting on wood, both attributed to the school of Botticelli.

Casa Sinibaldi at Montelupo

This house belonged to the family of Bartolomeo Sinibaldi, known also as “Baccio da Montelupo”, a famous sculptor and architect, friend and colleague of Michelangelo Buonarroti.

The Frescobaldi Tower of Montelupo

The impressive Torre de’ Frescobaldi was built at the beginning of the 14 C to control the river traffic and guard against the depredations of Castrucci Castracani. Formerly a mill, the tower was later sold by the Medici to the Frescobaldi family. It now houses the Museo del Vetro Impagliato (raffia covered flasks), a craft which was practiced by the people of Montelupo from the 18 C.

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