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The Castles

Casentino is a border area, the valley saw conflicts between Longobards, Goti, Byzantine, that have marked their presence on the territory with fortifications since Early Middle Ages. The number of towers, castles, and fortification villages exceed 60 units. They usually were settled in the hills along the principal paths to control and master the territory. The upper Casentino’s fortifications have belonged to earls Guidi, while from Bibbiena to Subbiano belonged to the family of Bishop-counts of Arezzo. From the second half of the XV century Casentino followed Florence’s destiny. Nowadays in the territory we can still see many of  those castles, towers and fortifications even if in relatively small numbers compared to the past, one of the best preserved is Poppi’s castle that overlooks the valley from its central position. On the north of the valley between the municipality of Pratovecchio and Stia there  is Romena’s castle, that dates back to XI century, also this as a central position and presents itself like a complex of ruins, that recently has been restored, its structure is characterized by three quadrangular towers and by a path flanked by two lines of cypress. Further north there’s Porciano’s castle, basically a big quadrangular tower built around the year 1000, that has been restored after an accurate archeological excavation, and is now the house of the owners and an ethnographic museum. The tower integrates well with the surrounding village, it all has been maintained as in the past thanks to strict architectural laws. Porciano has a nice view of the whole valley (with favorable conditions you can even see the plain where now there is Arezzo). Further south from the historical center of Bibbiena, in Tarlati square, is well visible La Torre dell’Orologio, that is what remains, as well as  a parietal wall and a little tower of the antique castle destroyed during Campaldino battle in 1289. Much of the castles and towers of Casentino have been destroyed during battles, especially in the late fifteenth century. At that time the leader, Bartolomeo D’Alviano, destroyed many fortified outposts in Florence; he didn’t manage to destroy the main one, Poppi castle. One of the destroyed castles was Fronzola’s castle a few km from Poppi, that in the past had a strategic  and political main role, the castle position was favorable for the use of siege weapons directed to Poppi, Bibbiena and the Campaldino’s plain. The castle is now a mix of ruins mostly covered by vegetation. Other Casentine’s castles, in ruins until recents time, had a better destiny than Fronzola castle, for example Palagio fiorentino in Stia and Valenzano  castle in the south of the valley. The ruins of the castles, both of antique buildings ( the first one dates to XIII century, the second one dates to X century have been restored in the late nineteenth century, so besides the original structure of the castles they also introduced new architectural  elements of late romanesque influence. 

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