Castelfranco di Sopra (1591 m. above sea level) lies at the foot of Pratomagno, on the right edge of
a terrace deeply incised into the mountain by the torrent Faella and the minor water courses and
rivulets which account for the characteristic landscape of the “Balze”. The fortified centre, according
to Villani’s evidence, was constructed from 1299, at the same time as San Giovanni Valdarno, in an
area previously controlled by powerful feudal landowning families, the Pazzi and the Ubertini. In fact
the decision to set about the construction of a fortified centre, planned, as tradition has it, by
Arnolfo di Cambio, appears in the resolution of 1299.
There remains of the old fortified centre parts of the walls, and of Porta Fiorentina and Porta Aretina.
The town lay-out is distinguished by its square form, the lay-out of which is contemporaneous with
those of San Giovanni and Terranuova. A coherent system of orthogonal roads is organised around
the large well-conserved central piazza. Important palazzi and interesting examples of fourteenth-
century terraced houses are still to be seen in the historic centre.
Not far from the village walls, Badia (‘Abbey’) di Soffena, once the castle of the Ubertini and then a
Vallombrosian Monastery, houses interesting fresco cycles by Paolo Schiavo, Liberato da Rieti and
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