Discover Castiglione di Garfagnana, a mighty castle in the province of Lucca
Castiglione di Garfagnana is an outstanding fortified hamlet in the province of Lucca, located about 50 kilometres far from the city. Castiglione It rises at an altitude of 545 metres above sea level in an area at the foot of the Apennines, which historically has had great strategic importance. The hamlet is located along the old road that leads to passo di San Pellegrino, one of the best roads to cross the mountains.
The hamlet of Castiglione di Garfagnana was founded by the Romans with the name Castrum Leonis; since then, this place was considered very important due to its strategic position. During the Middle Ages Castiglione was object of desire of Lucca that repeatedly besieged, conquered, lost and reconquered the village between the 12th and 14th centuries. Later Castiglione was involved in other wars as in the beginning of the 17th century when was besieged twice by the armies of Modena. Well, not exactly a quiet history!
Things to do in Castiglione di Garfagnana: the guide
Castiglione di Garfagnana is a very special village which has retained much of its past. considered on of the most beautiful hamlets in Italy, Castiglione is strongly characterized by its imposing turreted walls and its fortress.
Let’s see which are the main monuments of Castiglione di Garfagnana:
- City walls
- Chiesa di San Michele
- Chiesa di San Pietro
- Chiesa della Corba
- Molini Bridge
The walls of Castiglione di Garfagnana
Just outside the walls, east of the historical centre, we can find a wide parking lot and the bus stop. Leaving this parking, the first city gate we meet is the the Porta Nuova. Here we can admire a very vell preserved trait of the wall with two towers: Torrione di San Michele on the left and Torrione San Pietro on the right. Built by Lucca starting from 1370, the defensive walls are one of the most interesting things to see in Castiglione.
Beyond the walls, take via Roma to reach a nice square with a well in the center. Here on the right we find the Town Hall, while on the left there are the Porta del ponte levatoio and the Torrione dell’orologio.
The churches of Castiglione di Garfagnana
Well, back now on our steps and from via Roma we take via San Michele to reach the Church of the same name. The chiesa di San Michele was founded in the beginning of the 15th century and is characterized by a late-Gothic facade where bands of pink marble stone are alternated to stone rows. Inside are some interesting art works as the Madonna with Child by Giuliano di Simone (1389) and a wooden cross from teh 15th century.
In 2014 was opened the Deposito Museale di Castiglione di Garfagnana. It’s a small museum of sacrd art housed inside the Oratorio del Santissimo Sacramento e Santa Croce, located just few steps to the chiesa di San Michele.
The chiesa di San Pietro is very close to the castle. Consecrated in 1197 but also previously documented, this is the most ancient church of the hamlet. Unfortunately there are only few remainings of the original masonry; the bell tower of the church stands on the near Torrione San Pietro. Among the art works inside we can find three wooden statue by Vincenzo Civitali (1515) representing Saint Peter, Madonna with Child and Saint Paul.
The castle is not only the main monument of Castiglione but also its original nucleus. It is an imposing structure with three towers from where you can enjoy a great view over the Garfagnana. This fortress is private property but you can visit it thanks to the guided tours organized by the Pro Loco of Castiglione di Garfagnana; for more informations and to book a guided tour, please consult the web site of the Pro Loco.
Things to visit outside the walls of Castiglione
Just outside Castiglione di Garfagnana we suggest to visit the chiesa della Corba and the medieval Molini bridge. The graceful chiesa della Corba is close to the walls of Castiglione. Documented since the 16th century, this church preserves an image of the Virgin that is an object of great devotion. The Molini bridge is located less than a kilometre from the centre of Castiglione. Built on the river Esarulo, is a typical medieval bridge on one arch with the so called shape of “donkey’s back”.