Situated on a picturesque hillside on the right bank of the Elsa river, inside a small piece of territory carved out by the two branches of the Pesciola watercourse, a tributary of the Elsa, Sticciano Estate probably did not acquire its business and architectural “status” before the middle of the sixteenth century. It was undoubtedly well established and large in size by the last decade of the 1600s and run as a farm estate by the important Florentine Tornaquinci family. We have already seen how prior to the institution of the grand duchy of Tuscany there was no trace of the farm. However, even from the beginning of the 1400s, lands which were to become its holdings – organised at first in tiny locally-owned farming units – would appear to have existed. Extensive tracts of land in the region were owned by rich Florentine merchants who had originally come from the area. The absence of large properties organised as tenant farms and the presence of small farming concerns would seem to have characterised the central Valdelsa in the early Medicean period. In the mid-1500s there is no sign of those enormous farming estates which were to be found more or less continuously in this part of the Valdelsa right from the end of the seventeenth century and mostly belonging to the Florentine landed aristocracy. The vast Pino Estate included property at Certaldo, the farms at Rio and Citerna (situated very near to Sticciano) and land at Montespertoli and Barberino Val d’Elsa. However, the Estate, whose central nucleus was at Santa Maria a Polvereto, was taken away from the rival Cavalcanti family and donated in 1568 to the Noble Order of the Knights of Santo Stefano. The same fate befell another large tenant farm, that of Alzato near San Pancrazio. It is therefore very likely that during the second half of the sixteenth century, in the course of this social and political reorganisation of the Valdelsa carried out by the Medici regime, there was also time to create the Sticciano Estate which was probably given to the important Tornaquinci family.
The old brick kiln
Entering for the first time the Tenuta di Sticciano, Hidden by the cypresses going down towards the Pesciola, under the house “La Fornace”, you can see a ruin with the appearance of an old barn. In reality, going around it from below you get to what was once the entrance. Although the years have left their marks, this appears majestic, almost as if it were the facade of a church. Under a portentous arch, crouching down, we can enter the old “Focolaio”, the central part of the kiln. The kiln ends inside the large circular cooking chamber about three meters high. Inside you can see the unmistakable signs of an incessant work by man and an activity of various renovations carried out over time. Built between May 1790 and March 1800, we can observe it and imagine going back in time to see the intense work that involved various craftsmen such as “the kilnsman”, “the brick maker”, “the polveraio” (employed in the use and the dosage of the gunpowder necessary in the furnace) and the “fastellaio” (in charge of finding and transporting the “fastella di stipa” fagotts necessary to adopt the cooking process in the furnace). The kiln was used above all for the processing of bricks and lime such as: roof tiles, small tiles, bricks, blocks and mortar. From a geological point of view, the location of the kiln responded to specific needs of finding the clay that emerged on the surface of the hillside, making it easier to take it due to the slope assumed by the ground.