"In a district called Bengodi where the vines were tied with sausages, flowed a river of the best wine ever tasted, without a single drop of water”.
In his Decameron Boccaccio describes the Certaldo area where some of “the best wine ever tasted” is still produced today. Opposing enemies fought over the conquest of these lands where the generous vines yield their treasures from the rocks. The oldest record of Castello di Pogni dates back to 1059. The name derives from the Latin “pugna” (fist), recalling the battles fought here for the control of a geographically important area inhabited by proud, indomitable people.
“Ponnia Thuscorum statio celeberrima quondam” became the domain of Conte Alberto Degli Alberti, also Lord of Certaldo and the legendary Semifonte. The Castle included numerous houses and inhabitants and three fortified towers. Pogni soon quarrelled with the powerful Republic of Florence, which disapproved of the arrogant Conte Alberto and his subjects who lorded it over the Val d’Elsa as far as the Val di Pesa. Florence also wanted to take possession of a fertile area rich in vineyards and olive groves.
The Republic used the pretext of the 1107 edict issue by the town of Florence allowing attacks on castles that failed to obey the central power. One night in June 1184 the Republic placed under siege the Castle of Pogni, despite its strength. Conte Alberti was taken hostage in Florence and freed only on condition that he, Countess Tabernaria his wife and their children should destroy the castle by April 1185, pull down the Certaldo towers and raze the castle of Semifonte to the ground, never to be rebuilt.
This was the end of the Castles of Pogni and Semifonte which earned such fame for the courageous protection of their inhabitants, conquered because they were forced to surrender by hunger rather than by attacks from Florence and the many precautions of a powerful town to fight them and bring them into abeyance, to the extent that the following verse came into use: “Florence move over Semifonte is becoming a city!”.