The origins of the nucleus of the commune of Tavarnelle are extremely ancient. It is situated today, as it was in the past, on the road that links Florence and Siena. Its name, Tavarnelle, is derived from the Latin word taberna or tavern and is based on the community’s role in serving the needs of travelers.
Situated among the hills separating the Pesa and Elsa valleys, the territory covers a total of 56.98 square kilometers (22 square miles). Altitudes in the area never exceed 400 meters (1,312 feet). Only half of the territory is located within the Chianti Classico zone. The total population amounts to about 7,000 persons and 8% of the workers are engaged in agriculture.
The antiquity of settlement in the countryside around Tavarnelle has been established by archeological artifacts found in the zone of the parish church of San Pietro in Bossolo and by place names. The territory was traversed by an important road of Roman origin that linked Florence and Siena and that, in the Middle Ages, was split in half. The principal branch provided a connection with the Via Francigena and Rome beyond. That link encouraged the development of the entire zone. The second branch, which provided a more direct route to Siena, led to the development of Sambuca and the castle of San Donato in Poggio. The existence of numerous castles in the territory around Tavarnelle in the 11th and 12th centuries has been documented. Some have vanished, while others remain as testimonials to the ancient defensive structures of the area. They have been incorporated in later complexes like Uglione, Poggio al Vento, Matraio (now Casa Brizi) and Petroio. The castle of Passignano, once the center of a Lombard settlement, was converted into the Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo, which has now been returned to the Vallombrosian monks after many vicissitudes. Among the many survivals from the past, the parish church of San Pietro in Bossolo, in a late Romanesque style, and that of San Donato in Poggio, which displays the characteristics of the Romanesque style of the Florentine countryside, are outstanding examples of the architecture of the period. In addition to the abbey of Badia di Passignano, the convent of Santa Maria al Morrocco of the 15th century and the elegant, late 16th-century oratory of Santa Maria di Pietracupa deserve mention. Many feudal manors were transformed into farmhouses, including Cetinale, San Michele a Viculo, Palagione, San Polo di Tirne, Torricella and Torrino. Among the most attractive villas are those of Bonazza, Fillinelle, Nero, Ugo, Palazzuolo, Spoiano and Torrigiani a Spicciano