The museum, dedicated to the memory of the Sienese scholar Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli, is located in the Palazzo Pretorio (or Palace of the Podestà) which, together with the Palazzo del Popolo and the Palazzo dei Priori, stands as a symbol of political power in the Medieval commune of Colle.
The archaeological collection is made up of finds coming exclusively from the local territory. Dating from the Copper Age to the Middle Ages, the artifacts on display demonstrate the important role that the Valdelsa has played over many centuries, thanks to its strategic location along ancient travel and trade routes.
The 15 exhibition rooms pay special attention to the development of Etrsucan society in the Valdelsa in relation to the assertion of political power of the prosperous town of Volterra nearby. Most archaeological finds in the area date back to the Archaic and Hellenistic Periods, as represented by artifacts unearthed at two great necropolises of Le Ville and Dometaia.
The museum contains magnificent burial furnishings found in the tomb of the noble Calisna Sepu family, situated in the Necropolis of Casone (Monteriggioni) which was used between the 4th and 1st centuries B.C. The tomb, where more than 105 artifacts were discovered, counts as one of the most important finds in northern Etruria from the Hellenistic Period in terms of its wealth and of the duration of its use. The burial furnishings include black-glazed vases produced in Volterra, splendid bronze mirrors (one of which shows the engraved scene The Judgment of Paris), and a vast range of ceramic tableware used by the Etruscan artistocracy.
The museum visit concludes with a fascinating exploration of Etruscan women, investigating their daily life and their role in society, and finally with the Gracco del Secco Rooms of Memory, a thought-provoking itinerary through the prison cells of the palazzo, which were in use from the Middle Ages through to 1924.
Well worth visiting is the Parco Archeologico di Dometaia (Dometaia Archaeological Park). Admission is free to this extraordinary Etruscan necropolis.
The Archaeological Museum is a member of the Colle Alta Museums system, along with the San Pietro Museum.
Double earthenware “salt cellar”, Pierini Tomb (late 7th-early 6th century B.C.): a rare and curious artifact in bucchero, made up of two receptacles that are joined together, with a spoken-style text in the Etruscan alphabet saying “mini muluvunike pisna perkena” (I was given by Pisna Perkena).
Kelebe by the Painter of the pygmy trumpeter, Tomb of the Calisna Sepu family (third quarter of the 4th century B.C.): a work that is typical of production in Volterra with figures in red, which shows a pygmy playing a trumpet, giving the name of the very able artist who was active in Etruria during the 4th century B.C.
Reconstruction of the face of the “young woman of Porciglia”: the face of a young Etruscan woman, magnificently reconstructed by leading experts from the University of Pisa; she was buried 2,500 years ago in a tomb located at Le Porciglia.
Archaeological Museum “R. Bianchi Bandinelli”
Piazza Duomo, 42
53034 Colle di Val d’Elsa
Call Center: 0577 286300
Dometaia Archaeological Park
Museo San Pietro (Museo Diocesano – Museo Civico – Conservatorio San Pietro – Collezione Bilenchi – Collezione Fusi) – Museo Archeologico “Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli”
>> ATTENTION: THE MUSEUM IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC FOR RENOVATION WORKS.
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Dometaia Archaeological Park
from June to September
Sunday and holidays, 4pm to 7pm
from 3rd October
open by reservation
As a stronghold that was fought over for many years by Florence and Siena, Colle fell under Florentine rule in the mid-1300s, when its economic power was at its height. The city is famous as the 1240 birthplace of the architect and sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio, to whom the main square was later dedicated, and the 1370 birthplace of Cennino Cennini, author of Il Libro d’Arte (The Book of Art), a fundamental treatise on Medieval painting techniques. The town, once divided into different quarters known as Piano, Borgo and Castello (today “Colle Alta” and “Colle Bassa”), was renowned from the 1700s onward for its paper mills, which were driven by the river and by its gore (waterways leading to a mill). Having become an episcopal seat in the 1500s, Colle has noteworthy buildings in architectural and urbanistic terms: the Palazzo Campana, which stands in the historic city centre; the Teatro dei Varii, a delightful experiment in theatre-design by Bibiena; the Convent of St. Francis and the impressive Duomo (Cathedral). Today it is known as the “Crystal City” because it is responsible for 15% of crystal production throughout the world and more than 95% of all crystal produced in Italy, blending together the very best in design with an age-old local tradition of glasswork.