In the 13th century the hamlet belonged to the powerful Ubertini family, at the time also Lords of Monte San Savino, who maintained its military function, evidence of which can still be seen in its mighty walls and crenellated tower.
Since the 13th century, Gargonza was at the centre of a tense relationship between Siena, Arezzo and Florence, who disputed its ownership several times. Amid repeated sieges, revolts and handovers it was the Florentines who prevailed, maintaining the castle until 27th February, 1546 when the Medici ceded it to Marquis Luigi Lotteringhi della Stufa, then it passed to Marquis Corsi Salviati and finally became the property of the Guicciardini family.
By the 15th century Gargonza became an autonomous community that exploited the forests and produced wool, according to its charter of 1440. It was assigned its own church, dedicated to Saints Tiburtius and Susanna that still exists and is consecrated, and a school that remained active from 1924 to 1968. Gargonza was thus a truly independent community in civil, economic and religious terms, numbering as many as 654 inhabitants in 1833.
With the dissolution of the sharecropping economy and the resulting rural exodus that began after World War II, the population declined and by 1960 Gargonza was almost totally uninhabited. The Guicciardini Corsi family, owners of the village, decided to invest in the creation of a castle-hotel; a choice that saved the castle and brought it to the present day.
Among the various historical events that affected the hamlet, it is worth mentioning that in 1302 Gargonza was the site of a famous meeting between the Ghibellines of Florence and Arezzo, along with some renegade Guelphs, including the exiled Dante Alighieri, and in 1921 a plaque was placed above the entrance gate to the castle to commemorate the Great Poet’s passage.
From the gate, a short climb leads to the main square, adorned with an octagonal well and dominated by the keep tower, restored and enlarged in 1838. The houses, once the residence of farmers, follow the circular course of the walls, as if to create the shape of a shell.
Proceeding from the square on the right, you reach the Romanesque church, once affiliated with the parish of Monte San Savino, later to become the autonomous church of the people of Gargonza.
Leaving the church and going on along the main road, you come to the Oil Mill, which incorporates a small Chapel, where there is an inscription recalling its original title of Santa Maria and its restoration dating back to 1824.
Gargonza, a village, a castle, a magical place suspended in time to be experienced at your leisure and without haste.
A corner of the world still capable of wonder.
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