The “borgo” of Villamagna
A strategic castle-”borgo” dating back to the 8th century
Villamagna is located in the North-West of the municipality of Volterra, over the Capriggine stream, which flows into the Era river at Molino d’Era. Villamagna was first mentioned in January 780, when a Lombard merchant native of Villamagna but living in Pisa donated some of his holdings to the Palazzuolo abbey in Monteverdi Marittimo.
Despite its strategic location on top of a clayey hill between the Roglio and Fregione streams, which made it unconquerable, it followed Volterra’s fate in 1228. It was plundered numerous times up until its worst siege from Florence in 1530, which was followed by a plague epidemic that decimated its population.
Today, it’s a nice and quiet place with a beautiful view over the area around it.
Two must-sees are the parish churches of San Giovanni Battista and Santa Felicita. Up until the 1970s, the parish church stored a painting by Rosso Fiorentino called the “Pala di Villamagna”, which is now kept in the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Artin VolterraNot far away from the parish church and close to the cemetery is the small church of Madonna della Neve, dating back to the 17th-18th century. The canopy and the outside porch were built with the help of the citizens members of the church in order to protect a 15th century fresco depicting a Virgin Mary with Child, which previously was located in a tabernacle. This is where, on August 5th, the “Festa della Madonna della Neve” is celebrated..
On the second Sunday in October the inhabitants of Villamagna also celebrate the “Madonna del Ringraziamento” or “Madonna del Tifo”. This tradition dates back to 1817, when there was an outbreak of typhus (“tifo”) in the area of Volterra: the inhabitants relied on the “Madonna della Neve” (“Snow Virgin Mary”) and promised to worship and thank her. Even after the end of the outbreak, they still show their gratitude to the “Madonna”.
Right before the town on the right hand-side, is the rural “borgo” of San Donnino, which includes a farm, a small church and an elegant 1500s villa, maybe designed by Baldassarre Peruzzi, which opens up on an avenue of cypresses.