Carmignano is a hidden gem in Tuscany, not far from Florence and Prato and with a history that dates back to the Etruscans.
In the wide-stretching Montalbano area, Carmignano takes the crown as one of the oldest settlements of the Florentine-Pistoia plain. The oldest evidence of Etruscan settlements is found precisely in the municipality of Carmignano, an area teeming with Etruscan ruins dating to between the seventh century BC to Roman times. Carmignano is indeed strategically located in what was once an important crossroads for reaching the Tyrrhenian Sea. As the Arno River was then navigable, this crossroads merged the body of water with the Comeana and the Artimino passes (important trading centers), making the plain area especially vital for the development of agricultural economies.
As with many areas in Tuscany, a large castle was built in town for military and defense reasons, making Carmignano and the nearby Artimino military posts. After becoming an independent municipality, Carmignano remained a point of tension between neighboring municipalities. To this end, its castle, which most likely dates to the twelfth century, was adorned with a tower jutting over 40 meters into the sky. Though no longer visible, a statue once graced the top: two marble hands arranged in an abusive gesture towards Florence, signaling Pistoia’s (short-lived) rule – and serving as a testament to Carmignano’s central role in Tuscan power plays.
The town’s Renaissance history is very much liked to the grandeur of its neighboring Medici villa, Poggio a Caiano (a UNESCO Heritage site). It wasn’t until the birth of the so-called “sacred net” that the organization of the territory was set into place, creating the system of parishes that still characterizes the area and survives today.
As the population in Carmignano grew during the nineteenth century, the town developed towards the lower area, its administrative headquarters moved to lower Carmignano following a dispute over the Praetorian Palace (located inside the castle) in 1826. The town’s history following this event is closely aligned with the history of unified Italy, placing Carmignano and its residents amidst the world wars.
Today, located about 30 minutes from Florence, Carmignano is an area deeply embedded in Tuscan wine culture, a strong industry of the area since the Middle Ages. Cosimo II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, identified Carmignano as one of the superior wine producing areas in Tuscany – a reputation it still boasts today.
More info (in Italian) here : http://www.carmignanodivino.prato.it/