SEMIFONTE, THE LOST CITY
In the latter part of the early Middle Ages, on the hills between Certaldo and Barberino Val d'Elsa (Chianti) stood the Semifonte Castle, with its watchtower now known as Villa il Santo.
Due to its strategic position and to its broad-minded politics, the Semifonte Castle became a refuge for all kinds of drifters, refugees and exiles, to the point that it became an evil city, disliked by its powerful neighbors Florence and Siena.
This situation of city-refuge consequently led to a phenomenal demographic growth, and by 1200, Semifonte was almost the same size as Florence.
At that time, Florence requested Semifonte to limit its growth and to submit to Florentine power.
The reply was a sign attached to the city gate, facing the direction of Florence, on which was written "Florentia, get out of the way because Semifonte is becoming a city".
Florence sent two ambassadors to Semifonte but they were killed and for several days their bodies were left hanging at the city gates.
In retaliation, accompanied by several mercenaries from Siena, Florence sent its armies with the explicit order to destroy everything.
The city was reduced to a pile of rubble and the entire population was massacred and buried in common graves.
A law prohibited any kind of construction on the Semifonte territory for five centuries, after which time, the Lorena Family, a new noble family from Florence, had a miniature copy of the Florence Cathedral, the San Donnino church, built where the cursed ancient city used to lie.
To reach Semifonte, take the Tavarnelle exit off the Firenze-Siena motorway, then continue towards Siena. Drive through Barberino Val d'Elsa, and turn right in the direction of Certaldo-Empoli-Petrognano. . After a few kilometers you will find the sign on your left.