Poggio a Caiano is the most recent and the second to smallest municipality of the region. The locality, already inhabited in the Roman era was important in the Medieval for the presence of a small fort built between the XII and the XIII century by Prato to defend the bridge over the Ombrone, and for the fact of being from XIII to XVIII century the internal gate of Prato, and for being the departure point by river on the Ombrone and the Arno for the barges of the merchants going to Pisa and Livorno.
History: Charlottesville’s sisterhood with Poggio a Caiano is rooted in Thomas Jefferson’s friendship with Poggio native Filippo Mazzei. Mazzei was working in London to promote the importation of Italian produce to England when he met and befriended Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Adams, signer of the Articles of the Confederation and member of the Continental Congress. They persuaded him to move to Virginia to expand his business. In Virginia, Adams introduced Mazzei to Jefferson, with whom he shared his extensive knowledge of Italian wines, cheeses, and olive trees. Jefferson introduced Mazzei to Virginia politics. Mazzei and Jefferson shared views about democratic principles and Mazzei introduced Jefferson and Charlottesville to Italian grape vines that are still used in both Virginia and Poggio today for the production of wine.
History with Charlottesville: The multi-dimensional friendship between Mazzei and Jefferson inspired Poggio and Charlottesville to officially link the two cities in 1977 in commemoration of the bicentennial celebration of the American Revolution.
Location of Sister City:
The town of Poggio a Caiano is in the province of Prato in Tuscany, northwest of Firenze (Florence). Poggio is famous for its Medici Villa, built for Lorenzo de’ Medici by Giuliano da Sangallo in the 1480s. The villa, which remains intact, was positioned to look out to on the plains of Prato and on the mountains to the north and south. Part of the villa is now a museum of paintings from the Medici collection.
Letter from Mayor Sergio Pezzati to Mayor Nancy O’Brien, December 30, 1976
Copyright 2009 William B. Harvey, used with permission ( 9 PICTURES)