History of i Palmenti

From the XVI century

History of i Palmenti2018-08-29T15:49:08+00:00

Historical data

On the Origins and on the Functions of the Building

The first maps (“Piante dei Capitani, Popoli e strade A.S.F .f. 120 inserto II carta 197”) which generally included the building date back to the second half of the 16th century.
In the historical archives Podesteria di Montelupo and popolo di S. Giovanni, this building is indicated as “the mill and the hospital of Marquis Piero Frescobaldi”, who owned more buildings and estates in the area of Montelupo.
The toponym of the building has changed over the time and finally became “the mill of the hospital”, thus indicating clearly that the mill originally belonged to a Florentine Charity Organization (Santa Maria Novella Hospital or S. Piero Hospital or Ospedale degli Incurabili), who owned lots of properties in the countryside around Florence. The fact that the building originally belonged to a Florentine Charity Organization is still visible in the original wall structure and in the central part of the building, where you can still appreciate the wall texture made up of split river stones placed in lines and the forms of the original openings, proving that this building was made in the early XVth Century.

In the treaties on the history of technology, this type of mill is defined as “hydraulic mill with horizontal wheel” and as “Greek” mill. The most ancient examples of this type of mill date back to the 1st century B.C. These mills were quite common in Tuscany and differed from the vertically wheeled ones in terms of hydraulic movement. The horizontal wheel mills were equipped with “spoon form” blades. In the case of our mill, the water flows of river Pesa were already deviated upstream in a millpond in “Pescaia dei Capitani”, which is still partially visible today, and reached the basin of “ricolta”, the millpond located in front of our mill, where the water inlet with hoppers (to regulate the water flow) and the hydraulic wheels equipped with special blades called ritrecini were to be found.
Vertical shafts moved the horizontal mills called “palmenti” on the upper floors of the building.
The mill was used to grind wheat and other various products, including the colors used by the numerous ceramic producers in Montelupo at that time.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the mill was mainly used to grind the rests of oak woods, which were used by leather tanneries in Santa Croce sull’Arno area.
The mill was closed-down in the mid fifties and since then has it not been used as mill but as a stockroom and private residence.

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