The Castle of Sidney Sonnino
The Castle of Sidney Sonnino is at 10 via Volterrana North in Montespertoli, in the province of Florence. This medieval castle was formerly known as the Castle of Montespertoli, yet today is simply called Sonnino Castle. It belonged to the Ghibelline counts Alberti, the lords of the area until their extinction in 1393. It was then passed on to the Machiavelli, who already owned various estates across the territory, and finally to the Sonnino family since 1830. The most famous period was when Sidney Sonnino lived here and hosted numerous personalities of the time: Francesco Crispi, Giovanni Giolitti, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Umberto I of Savoy, Victor Emmanuel III. Important reforms and agricultural innovations were prepared during that period. Many works of art found today in the museums and churches in the area come from the castle, most notably a Mary and Child by Filippo Lippi, which is now at the local museum of sacred art, as well as a wooden cross by Taddeo Gaddi, now located in the San Lorenzo Church in Montegufoni.
Today the castle is in the center of a farm and it is possible to organize events there. It also conserves, besides various relics, the archives with all of the Sonnino’s correspondence and documentation regarding the preliminaries and events leading up to Italy’s entry into war in 1915, as well as those of the Paris Conference and Treaty Versailles in 1916 and 1918 respectively. The tower remains as the most ancient part of the complex, dating back to the 13th century, placed on a knoll that overlooks the surrounding valley. Some 17th century buildings were added to it.