Val d'Elsa

Castle of Staggia Senese
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The charm of the Castle of Staggia Senese

Suspended between the past and the present, the fortified village of Staggia Senese and its mighty castle are an enchanting testimony to medieval history and architecture. This fascinating complex stands majestically in the heart of the municipality of Poggibonsi, in the province of Siena, capturing the imagination of visitors with its aura of mystery and grandeur.

History of the Rocca di Staggia Senese

The history of the castle is intertwined with the ancient Abbey of Abbadia ad Isola and stands along a route of historical significance, the Via Francigena. The first traces of this settlement date back to the year 994, when the first stones were laid in a combination of architectural audacity and defensive necessity. Initially under the dominion of the Lambardi, the castle then passed into the hands of the Soarzi and Franzesi.

Over the next two centuries, the castle was not only an impenetrable fortress, but flourished as a prominent residence. A mighty wall circuit, elegantly crenellated, enclosed a dominant entrance, surmounted by a round arch. Overall, a majestic quadrangular tower stood out, to all intents and purposes the symbol palace of the reigning family. The fourteenth century saw the annexation of Staggia to the territory of Poggio Bonizio, a critical moment which marked the economic and political rise of the surrounding region. The incessant flow of commerce and pilgrims along the Via Francigena fueled a prosperity that was reflected in the demographic expansion and in the enlargement of the village itself.

Castle of Staggia Senese
Castle of Staggia Senese (Photo by LigaDue / CC BY)

The architecture of the castle, a dive into the Middle Ages

The castle’s architecture stands as a tangible emblem of a bygone era, a treasure to be preserved for future generations. The imposing wall circuit, restored in 1372, has a series of towers of varied shapes: some square, others polygonal, to which was added a pseudo-elliptical which has now vanished over time. The stone corbel marks, buttressed with stately arches, survive as a testament to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the architects of the time. Once equipped with 3 imposing access gates, today the castle retains two: Porta Fiorentina and Porta Lecchi. The third, Porta Romana, was blown up by the Germans in 1944, together with the tower that protected it.

The internal architecture of the castle is equally fascinating: a square keep, dating back to the time of the Soarzi, dominates the complex. This is surrounded by two separate enclosures, one of which, the smaller one, was used to accommodate the civilian population in times of war. A peculiarity, unique in all of Tuscany, is the access door to the castle which can be reached thanks to a ramp that bypasses Porta Lecchi creating a second street level.

The 15th century has left its mark with mighty cylindrical towers at the corners, and the remains of the 14th-century feudal palace of the Franzesi evoke a sense of bygone grandeur. The elaborate windows, intricate doorways and majestic fireplace are testament to the luxury that once permeated these rooms. This place, once a refuge in times of conflict, holds the memory of an era of challenges and hopes.

Substantially abandoned until the early 2000s, the castle was restored between 2005 and 2006. This intervention made it possible to consolidate the structures of the complex and made it possible to access safely for visitors.

Castle of Staggia Senese
Castle of Staggia Senese (Photo by Diego Baglieri / CC BY)

How to visit the castle of Staggia

History and architecture merge with the opportunity to experience the castle firsthand. Today, thanks to the efforts of the “La Rocca di Staggia Foundation”, the castle is open to the public, an opportunity not to be missed to immerse yourself in past eras. Every day of the year, the doors of the Rocca di Staggia open wide to welcome visitors and onlookers. The continuous opening hours from 10:00 to 19:00 offer an ideal window of time to explore this place steeped in history. It is important to underline that access to the Rocca is only allowed through guided tours, which is also the best way to discover in depth every secret hidden behind its majestic walls.

How to reach the fortress of Staggia Senese

Reaching the Rocca di Staggia is a journey through time and the scenic beauty of Tuscany. From Florence, the Siena-Florence motorway junction leads to a destination steeped in history. The Colle di Val d’Elsa Sud exit, on the SP70, is the first step towards enchantment. Keeping left at the crossroads, follow the signs for Staggia, and once you arrive, let yourself be enveloped by the Via Romana, touching on the secrets behind every bend.

If you undertake the journey from Siena, the Siena-Florence motorway junction offers a route to the past. The Colle di Val d’Elsa Sud exit leads towards the magic of Staggia, and once you reach the Via Romana, the castle materializes in the panorama.

For those who prefer public transport, the bus stop is just a few steps from the castle, while Poggibonsi train station is 8 km away.
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