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Dolciano and the Medici Dynasty

The Grand Duchy of Tuscany was an ancient Italian State that existed for 290 years, between 1569 and 1859. It was established with a bull issued by Pope Pius V on August 27th, 1569, after the conquest of the Republic of Siena by the Medici dynasty. The Medici already held the Republic of Florence.

Dolciano, with the sanctuary of Paglieto, was rented by the Grand Duke Cosimo I dei Medici from the Community of Chiusi.

A few months after the death of Cosimo I, his son Francesco I (1.541-1587) followed his father's footsteps in managing the lands of Dolciano. And in 1561 he visited Dolciano for the first time.

On 25 April 1573 he rented it with a perpetual lease with a contract stipulated on October 6th 1,573 for a fee of 50 scudi equal to 350 lira.

Francesco I was the second Grand Duke of Tuscany and married Giovanna of Austria, daughter of Ferdinand of Habsburg. It is said that his interests were more ashamed of alchemy and Bianca Cappello, daughter of a Venetian noble than of his kingdom.

He died of malaria.

At that time the valley was a basin full of water 60 km long and an average of 2 km wide at the southern end there was the natural overflow threshold from which the water slowly flowed towards the Tiber.

Francesco I was succeeded by his brother Ferdinando I (1.549-1609) who became the third Grand Duke of Tuscany.

He was an excellent statesman, and renounced the cardinalate to ascend the throne of Tuscany. He was always very passionate about technologies and his younger brother founded the first scientific Academy.

With him, at the end of the 16th century the reclamation of the Paglieto (the sanctuary/preserve) was already partially completed.

The Grand Duke was a passionate hunter, had a hunting lodge. In 1664 the house of Dolciano was called Casa Nova.

Between the early 1600s and 1765s, the reclamation continued very slowly even with periods of complete abandonment.

In 1765 he was elected Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo Habsburg Lorraine who was a clear example of an “enlightened sovereign”.

He immediately gave a strong impulse to the reclamation and agriculture of the Grand Duchy and in 1780 when the reclamation was already very advanced, the Grand Duke ratified an agreement with Pope Pius VI which established that the waters of the valley would no longer flow towards the Tiber but towards the Arno in order to bring water to the Arno.

In 1769 the Grand Duke Leopoldo made his first visit to the Tenuta di Dolciano and noticed that it still needed improvements and that an agency house, or representative house, was needed as the headquarters of the farm.

In 1777 he made a second trip and found that things had improved considerably and that the construction of the Agency house was almost completed.

In 1787 a small church was built by the Grand Duke of Tuscany and at the request of Bishop Giuseppe Pannilini (Siena, 30 December 1742 - Pienza, 4 August 1823), the Italian Catholic bishop of Chiusi and Pienza. The parish was called San Leopoldo.

In 1782 the Grand Duke appointed Vittorio Fossombroni (Florence 1.754 - Arezzo 1844) Superintendent of the reclamation of the Val di Chiana. And with him almost the whole valley was reclaimed.

His opinion was also requested abroad, he was called by the vice king of Egypt for the reservoir of Alexandria in Egypt.

In 1790 Pietro Leopoldo left Tuscany and ascended the imperial throne.

Fortunately, the reclamation and construction of the Dolciano factories continued with his successors.

As the lands were reclaimed, cleared and cultivated, the need for warehouses advanced and therefore already in 1824 Leopoldo II when he assumed power expanded and completed the constructions of Dolciano. Following the complaints of the population who considered the Church too small, bare and cramped, Leopoldo II, in 1835, he built the circular part which had a lowered dome with small semi-arched windows, high up under the eaves.

On October 26th , 1850, Leopoldo II came to visit the real estate of Dolciano.

Leopold II was the last great Grand Duke and on April 27th 1859 he left Florence forever.

In 1860 Tuscany passed to the Kingdom of Italy and the assets of the Grand Duchy passed to the State which decided to sell them at auction.

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