Casentino and the Stia - a history
The Etruscan civilization, which had one of the most powerful Lucumonies in Arezzo, extended its boundaries to the mountains where the Arno meets the Staggio.
There are several archaeological sites of Etruscan and Roman origin in the Casentino region, such as the Temple of Ara at Pieve Socana, the ruins of a Roman Villa in the crypt of Buiano near Poppi and the so-called "Lake of the Idols" on Mount Falterona.
Under Roman control more colonies were also established, such as Trinità, Prataglia, Selvamonda, Strumi, Pietrafitta, and Buiano. About the Casentino in Roman times we have evidence in the form of Gold coins found in Lierna and Castel Castagnaio, and old buildings used for worship, and also from Roman times are certain discoveries made between Stia and Mount Falterona.
Roman deities dedicated to the worship of water were found at various locations of the Casentino, such as in the 'Lake of the idols'. Stia in ancient times was a village located along the Roman "Via Maior", linking the Casentino with San Godenzo, Mugello.
We have evidence about the origin of Christianity in the Casentino since the 11th-12th century, as evidenced by the buildings of the Parish Churches of Stia, Romena, Vado and Montemignaio.
Origins of the name Stia
The toponym of Stia derives from the Latin word "stadium", an ancient Roman unit of measure, then corrupted into "staggio", "staio", and "staja", by contraction of the name given to the Staggia torrent. This linguistic derivation is attested to by the “Archivio Glottologico Italiano” [1896, p. 397] which states: "Stia in the Casentino certainly was ‘Staggia’ and 'Staja.'"
With regard to the Middle Ages, the first evidence about Stia is a mention in the "Regesto di Camaldoli" from the years 1053-1054, where the "Plebe S. Mariae site Staia" is cited: "a plot of land belonging to the Parish Church of Santa Maria called 'Staia'".
In the same "Regesto" the place is mentioned as "Casale de Stia": "The Earl Vualfredo received a plot of land belonging to the 'Casale de Stia" .
In the Middle Ages Stia developed as a "mercatale" [an adjective to indicate the ancient market square] belonging to the County of Porciano and it was the residence of a branch of the Guidi Earls, also called "di Palagio" [from Palagio] to commemorate the construction, which took place in 1230, of the manor house built on the banks of the Staggia torrent.
In 1402 the village passed under the dominion of Florence as the “Palagio Fiorentino” [Florentine palace]. E. Repetti told the history of Stia like this:
"The old castle of Stia with its territory was annexed to the fiefs of the Earls of Guidi of the branch of Porciano, who lived in the Palace of “Stia Vecchia” [Old Stia], called “il Palagio” [the Palace], (...) which was then called “Palazzo Fiorentino” [Florentine Palace] (...) in a deed of gift drawn up in the chamber of the parish priest of St Mary situated in the Casentino in Stia (...) we learn that the donor was an Earl Guido of the late Albert...
...Also the Florentin historian Scipione Ammirato (1531-1601) attested that the Earls of Porciano were also called “Earls from Palagio”; he also mentioned an Earl of Porciano in the service of the Florentines and commander of a cavalry corps, who was by the same author cited with the title of “Conte di Palagio” .
The history of Stia was later linked to the Medici family and it ended with the Grand Duke Gian Gastone, who died in 1737. He was succeeded by the dynasty of Lorraine, which lasted until the unification of Italy in the late 19th century.
1. See “Regesto di Camaldoli”, edited by E. Lasinio, F. Baldasseroni and L. Schiaparelli, Loescher, 1907, p. 112 and 235
2. See “Dizionario Geografico, Fisico, Storico della Toscana ...”, Firenze, 1843, Vol. V, p. 468