The village of Castelfiorentino was founded in the Middle Ages and developed into two nuclei during the Renaissance; one downstream, a little more modern, with the Church of Santa Verdiana and the museum of the same name; the other is higher up and more historic, home to the Municipal Art Collection and two fresco series by Benozzo Gozzoli. These are now housed in the Benozzo Gozzoli Museum, a new museum in the heart of the city exhibiting frescoes and sinopias made between 1484 and 1490.
In the Castelfiorentino fresco cycle the maestro - a student of Fra Angelico – began with creating the sinopia (a preliminary drawing used to paint frescos and mosaics). His works in some of the Valdelsa’s smaller towns convey a popular archaism but, in the best examples, allowed him to cultivate extraordinary poetical inspiration.
Outside the city’s walls is the Church of San Francesco, a rare example of gothic architecture in Valdelsa, and the Sanctuary of Santa Verdiana, known for its impressive baroque façade. It’s also dedicated to the patron saint of Castefiorentino. who, in the 13th century, lived for over thirty years in a small cell, alone; the cell is still visible inside the Church. Today, the panel depicting the Saint is kept in the Museum of Santa Verdiana together with other masterpieces such as the Madonna and Child by Cimabue and Taddeo Gaddi.