Castiglione del Terziere

Photo by Simone Agnetti Photo by Simone Agnetti

The ancient hamlet of Castiglione del Terziere in Lunigiana dominates the valley of the Bagnone river, from a hill approximately 335 meters high. It is reachable traveling throughout the Motorway A11 Firenze-Mare until Lucca, then continuing on the A12 Genova-Livorno until the crossing point with the A15 Parma-La Spezia. Leave the A15 at the exit 'Aulla' and follow the SS62 until the town of Villafranca in Lunigiana, from here follow the SP26 that lead to Bagnone. Just passed the village the road begins to climb [after the bridge continue on the right] toward Castiglione. The indications are clear.


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The Porta Monumentale.

Castiglione [from the 1275 century called 'del Terziere' because it was comprised in the third part of the paternal inheritance assigned to marquis Alberto Malaspina of the branch of Filattiera] rises on the site of an ancient (6/7th century) Byzantine fortified stronghold acting like remote defence of Luni. The aspect of the village, dominated by the castle, dates for great part back to the Middle Ages, when Castiglione, from the 10th to 12th century, was fief of the Corbellari [Lords also of the nearby castle of Virgoletta] that in 1202 yield it to the Malaspina. Its period of maximum importance and development coincides with the domination of Castruccio Castracani of the Alteminelli, commander and Lord of Lucca, that made of Castiglione one of its strongholds pursuing the dream to unite Lunigiana, Garfagnana, Lucchesia and Versilia in an only great state. This plan never succeeded and the castle returned to have some importance only from 1451, when it become center of the Florentine Captaincy of Justice for the Lunigiana, thanks to its ideal position to control important mountain roads of communication. The castle was also the main strategic garrison along two branch of Francigena Road, the first coming from Lucca and the other from the mountains across the 'Passo di Tea', than had here their crossing point.

Tower of Franceschino the Soldier.

The original nucleus of the castle, dating to early Middle Ages, is identifiable in the central keep, encircled from what remains of the walled curtain. A high square watch tower flanks it on the main, south-east, front. This tower, that may be dated around the 12th century, strengthened the most exposed flank and was connected 'at sight' with all the other towers of the area. From the outside the keep is not today easy identifiable because it's partially incorporated in successive constructions.

The Main Castle Gate.

With the coming of the Malaspina the castle was widened and reinforced. Was Franceschino Malaspina, at the half of 14th century, that strongly reconstruct the residential wing incorporating the keep and the great circular tower called Torre di Franceschino il Soldato 'Tower of Franceschino the Soldier', at the center of the north-west front defending the main entrance. During the three centuries of Florentine control the castle was progressively adapted to its new function of residence for the magistrates and employees of the Lordship. After a long period of abandoning, from 1969 the castle belongs to Loris Jacopo Bononi, that carried on its restoration, and today it accommodates the ' Center of Humanistic Studies Niccolò V' with a rich historical library.

It is impossible to speak of the castle without naming the village that surround it. The original nucleus rises in the higher point of the hill, along the road toward the castle. Still at the time of the Corbellari dominion the first walled circuit enclosed the residential units, but was with the Malaspina that Castiglione becomes an independent fief and acquired its definitive appearance, developing itself along the other main roads that, climbing the hill, lead to the castle. At the half of the 1300 the whole settlement was encircled by the, second, walls and equipped of two gates, that one called 'Alla Colla' at northeast and the other 'In Cima Piagna' near the top of the ridge. Under the Florentine were carried on also some rearrangement at the country planning, the main road was embellished with beautiful palaces in classical Renaissance style [unfortunately today some are incredibly abandoned in a state of strongly degradation!], as the house of the grain Merchants called 'del Simonino', that others 'dei Torriani o Turriani' of Milan and 'dei Corbellari' and others, the seat of the Chancellery and a new gate called 'Monumentale' with independent guardroom, erected at the cross point of the two main road axis.

The keep and the watchtower on the left. The main facade of the keep, then transformed in residential palace.

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