Traveling along the main road Tosco Romagnola from San Miniato towards Ponte a Elsa it’s possible to find a small archaeological site on the left side of the road, and nothing would make us think that centuries ago one of the most important places in the entire area stood there: we are talking about Vico Wallari (subsequently Borgo San Genesio) an ancient village of Lombard origin.
The name Vico Wallari is a toponym composed of the words Vicus “village” and probably a name of a person of Germanic origins “Walah” and “Hari”. The place where the village stood was on the plain and had an excellent strategic position as both the Arno river and the Elsa river passed close by, the Via Quinctia in Roman times and later the Via Francigena.
In the village there was also a church around which the village developed and which was subsequently enlarged of considerable size, later becoming one of the most important churches in Tuscany dedicated to San Genesio, a Roman actor and martyr at the hands of the Emperor Diocletian.
The first documentation relating to the church of San Genesio in Vico Wallari dates back to around 715, when it was the setting for a historical event: inside it, and in the presence of the bishops of Fiesole, Pisa, Florence and Lucca and the notary of King Lituprando, a definitive judgment was pronounced on the territorial disputes between the bishop of Arezzo and that of Siena and Borgo San Genesio was chosen as a “neutral” and easily accessible territory.
Borgo San Genesio and the birth of the Tuscan League
The village of San Genesio was also remembered by Bishop Sigerico around 990 as the XXII stage of the Via Francigena and Imperial Diets organized by Emperor Henry III and Frederick Barbarossa were also held here. One of the most important events that took place there was the birth of the Tuscan League (or Guelph League) known as the “League of San Genesio”, an oath in defense of the Guelph side by the delegates of the cities of Lucca, Florence, Siena, San Miniato and Volterra in 1197 to which other Tuscan cities were added.
The village began to depopulate around 1200, when its citizens began to move towards the village of San Miniato which in the meantime was beginning to acquire considerable importance thanks to the German Emperors. Subsequently it was decided to have the baptismal font translated into the current Cathedral, which together with it also acquired the title of San Genesio.
The village was definitely destroyed around 1248.
Today, thanks to archaeological excavations, important evidence of the presence of the village has been brought to light such as coins, jewels, various tools and the remains of the church itself.