Guide to Valdarno: Badia a Ruoti, Bucine and Capannole
Badia a Ruoti is a typical hamlet of the Tuscan inland, that developed around the imposing abbey devoted to St. Peter, still overlooking the village. The abbey can be accessed through a door nicknamed "Torricella” that still displays the openings from which the heavy iron portcullis was lowered as well as the mechanisms that were used to close its doors. Past the entrance's arch, on the left side, two rooms once served as posterns.
Moreover, legend has it that there exist an underground passageway – no longer entirely practicable – that led inside the abbey. Alike castles, abbeys too had to be able to resist to sieges and starvation, thus was compulsory to have escape and supply routes unknown to the assailants. It is not unlikely, then, that there is more than a secret passage leading either way - from and to - the abbey. Inside the fortified area, it is possible to see an ancient oven with the inscription “1800” carved in its stone, while all around the structure, once ran a passageway not too far from the abbey, to hamper the perils of sieges and invasions and that, as of today, has been abandoned and replaced by more comfortable access ways.
Within the building, the ancient abbey's farm can be visited. In its caves there are preserved the old wooden casks and can be seen the "pits" that once were used to retrieve grain and other cereal. The abbey's church – relatively bald, in line with the Benedictine rule – features traces of frescoes believed to date back to the 14th century. The most important element of decoration is that of a wheel with eight spokes, that scholars speculate it has to be put in relation with the name of the abbey and its founder. It is interesting to note that the same decoration is featured at Camaldoli. The frescoes – or, at least what has come to our days – depict St. Mark and St. Catherine of Alexandria, while the altarpiece, painted by Neri di Bicci in 1472, represents the Coronation of the Virgin.
Nowadays the abbey, completely restored to its ancient splendour, is used for accommodation and for recreational and leisure activities.
Main town of the homonymous municipality, Bucine is mentioned in documents since the eleventh century. Like all the villages of the valley, anciently, it was surrounded by walls and historical documents ensure the existence at least until 1646: year of the investiture to "Bucine Marquis" by Giulio Vitelli. Of great importance are the Praetorian Palace (today the Municipal), the castle and the two parish churches. An ancient representation of the castle of Bucine is clearly visible on the sepulchral monument of Bishop Guido Tarlati, in the Cathedral of Arezzo. One of the panels, in fact, represents the taking of the castle of Bucine by the prince-bishop of Arezzo. Also important is the parish church, located not too far from the palace of the Marquesses Vitelli, which is situated in the highest part of the village. Going down to the main square it is possible to spot the Palazzo Pretorio (now siege of the Town Council) and the First World War Memorial, portraying a winged Victory (by Pietro Guerri) unveiled in 1922.
Capannole . Located at one of the most important crossroads since the very ancient times. The importance of the place as a crossroads is highlighted by many archaeological findings: the most important of which is a late Roman bridge that has been restored throughout the Middle Ages Even the construction of the church (more recent than the bridge) confirms the importance of the place. Mentioned in documents since 1038, the community of Capannole seemingly owns a ancient seal - portraying a castle and a shack. Historians believe that the name of the village be just a nickname that was given to the settlement by the soldiers patrolling the road. The castle of the borough (located on a hill beneath which placidly flows the river Trove) was formerly a fief of the Ubertini and then fell under the control of the Abbey of Agnano. In the end, it became property of the Vannucchi family.