What would it be like to live in a castle? Whether it is a childhood fantasy or a question that still tickles you, in the province of Arezzo you can dream with open eyes.
The city and its four valleys offer many exciting visits to fans of castles and fortresses. In the territory of Arezzo you will find structures built in the Renaissance or in the Middle Ages, but whose origins often date back to earlier times
Casentino is a destination particularly suitable for the tourism of castles. But also the other valleys guard amazing manors, defensive fortresses or former noble residences. Do not miss the opportunity to explore these stone giants.
Here is a selection of the most famous and fortunate castles and fortresses of Arezzo and its surroundings. They are those who have resisted better the insults of time and will give you glimpses and fabulous views.
The Medicean Fortress in Arezzo
Your Manor Tour starts right in the old city centre of the main city. You have to climb to the top of the hill to reach the park Il Prato, next to the Cathedral. It is the oldest green area of the city, an ellipse of grass surrounded by maritime pines planted at the time of the Medici.
Under the domination of the lords of Florence a new fortification was built in place of the previous Cassero di San Donato. The works ended in the second half of the Sixteenth century and since then the Medicean Fortress offers a fantastic view of the countryside of Arezzo.
The entrance is at the end of the avenue behind the marble monument dedicated to the Arezzo poet Francesco Petrarca. Enjoy the walk along the star-shaped plan of the Fortress and its heart-shaped ramparts.
Up here contemporary art exhibitions, concerts and events take advantage of the perfect setting of a super-panorama from the roof of Arezzo.
Casentino Castles, three wonders not to miss
Castle of Poppi
From the Medicean Fortress less than an hour’s drive will take you to the Castle of Poppi, undisputed star in the horizon of the Arezzo fortresses and symbol of Casentino.
Centuries ago the entire valley was controlled and administered by a noble family of German origin, the Guidi Counts. It was with them that the poet Dante Alighieri found refuge several times when he was exiled from Florence and outside the manor you will meet a bust in his honor.
Poppi Castle rises against the sky from the hill of the village. You can see it from several kilometers away. At its feet flows the Arno and opens the Campaldino Plain, the scene of a historic battle between Guelphs and Ghibellines.
The slender tower, the battlements of the walls, the elegant structure and the treasures it preserves inside will make in your mind an unforgettable memory of this valley.
Castle of Romena
Near Pratovecchio there is another magnificent monument. To get to the Castle of Romena – which can be visited, even if privately owned – you will have to walk along a dirt road framed by two rows of cypresses. The walls protected the keep and three main towers. Despite the damage it has suffered over the centuries, the manor still exudes a powerful charm.
A few hundred meters further down you can take refuge in the spiritual purity of the beautiful Pieve di Romena. The fact that the locality is expressly mentioned in Dante’s poem adds a grain of magic to this place.
Castle of Porciano
Sharpening the view from the parking lot of the Castle of Romena you can see on a hill the Castle of Porciano. It is the last of the trio of unmissable manors in Casentino. Even in Porciano the Guidi had a residence and it seems that Dante also passed by here.
The structure surmounts a cluster of houses climbed just outside Stia. Only the towerof the original complex is intact, very romantic when a cloak of red ivy fire surrounds it.
It should be one of the oldest residences of the Casentino lords in the land of Arezzo. In front of such a show, you will thank the current owners for having financed a total restoration between the years ’60 and ’70.
Girifalco Fortress in Cortona
Etruscan origin. Sold to the Florentines, who modified it giving it its current appearance. Later, city prison. These are some stages in the history of the Girifalco Fortress, located on top of Monte Sant’Egidio, in Cortona.
The imposing walls with four bastion surround the Palazzo del Capitano, the garden and the inner courtyard. The site is open to the public in both winter and summer. If you are in the area, find out about the calendar of events that the Fortress offers (especially exhibitions and live music).
Its location isolates the complex from the noise of the city. It is a place that invites you to a slow exploration, to stop in the most intriguing points of architecture. Steep stairs, rows of arches, windows that open onto the countryside and an absolutely incredible view that parades in front of you while walking on the walls.
The Castle of Montecchio Vesponi
A jewel nestled between the Valdichiana and the Val di Chio on the road that connects Arezzo to Cortona. The Castle of Montecchio Vesponi seems to have emerged directly from a romance novel. It is one of the most beautiful manors in Tuscany with battlements on the walls, the central tower and the guard.
It may interest you to know that at the end of the Fourteenth century the fearsome captain of fortune Giovanni Acuto lived here. The structure also appeared in the background of some works by the famous painter Beato Angelico, in films, documentaries and even in a comic strip.
It will not be easy for you to find a more photogenic building nearby. A specialscenography nestled in a landscape where nature and human traces combine with harmonious poetry.
Castles and fortresses, walls and bastions, views and views, the land of Arezzo is ready to enchant you.