Since the early Middle Ages San Miniato's hillside had been densed with smaller towns and settlements. The "hills of San Miniato" are in a pivotal area that connect the Florentine area of Montespertoli and San Casciano, the Valdelsa of San Gimignano and the inland Pisan countryside to the Etruscan town of Volterra. On a clear day (and with plenty of luck!) you can see the profile of Volterra from the Castle Hill (Rocca).
The area was inhabited long before the first reports which dates back to the year 938 (conserved by the Archiepiscopal Archives in Lucca): it is an act of enfeoffment that assigned the city and nearby localities to a lord. By the 12th century the territory was already occupied with over 50 churches and their rural communities (Papal Bill dated 1195). Is not a surpirse then that today in the countryside of San Miniato there are numerous small villages, villas, parishes and castles. Some of these are in the Egola Valley, a tributary of the Arno river going southwest: the village of La Serra, a steep unpaved road in the midst of a forest reaches the Castle of Montebicchieri, one of the bastions for the defence of the old commune. An ancient abandoned rural settlement amid large oak trees today surrounds the castle. The small town of Bucciano and the ancient Pieve di Barbinaia (mentioned in documents dating back to the year 868, its ruins later became part of an old farmhouse now in rubble).
Along the Egola river, other ancient villages are Balconevisi, dominated by the Villa Strozzi. From this very old settlement (the name is probably Longobard: the Valle di Cunighiso) several very interesting itineraries can be followed, some of which lead to underground tombs from the Neolithic Age. At the Pieve di San Giovanni di Corazzano (Parish Church of St. John) there are rests of a national monument and classic example of rural Romanesque architecture. It dates back to the 12th century and with its distinct red terracotta colour, combines in its marble facade Roman ruins from the Classical Age taken from the pre-existing colony, the ancient Roman settlement of Quaratiana. The hills surrounding these sites are worked by farmhouses that used to grow tobacco, some of those are still working.