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Castles and Villas near Anghiari

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As in many of the long-populated areas of Tuscany, there are a number of fine castles and castellated villas in the vicinity of Anghiari. These fortified dwellings defended the Upper Tiber Valley (Valtiberina) and the valleys that led into it along the lines of attack that connected Arezzo to the Adriatic Sea. Along the right-hand side of the Sovara valley, there are Valialle, which goes back to before 1000 AD but of which only a few traces of the walls remain, Casale, Upachi, with its recently renovated church, and Scoiano, where much remains, including a stone doorway and traces of frescoes that indicate an important past.

Scoiano near Anghiari

Scoiano

Villa La Barbolana

Villa La Barbolana

The fortified Villa La Barbolana was constructed between 1565 and 1582 for Federico di Antonio Barbolani. It is an unusual square villa with bastions that jut out slightly on each corner and a particularly tall central tower. Is surrounded by a moat with two bridges giving access. Inside there are vaulted ceilings, terracotta floors and renaissance stone door frames and on the ground floor there is a small 18 C chapel.

The villa was modernised in the 19 C when Carlotte Barbolani married Simone Francesco Velluti Zati, Duke of St. Clemente.

Castello dei Sorci

Castello dei Sorci

In 1268 the Castle of the Sorci was destroyed by the German forces of Corradino of Swabia who was fighting against Carlo of Angiò. It subsequently came under the control of Florence and became the home of the Mercenary Captain, Baldaccio d'Anghiari. At one time there were up to thirty men-at-arms guarding its moated walls. Over the following centuries the castle, like many during the peace that Florentine domination provided, was gradually converted into fortified villa incorporating the original tower. The castle took on its present aspect in the 17 C and today houses a quite famous restaurant.

The Lombard Fort of Toppole

Badia San Veriano

Badia San Veriano

Toppole Castle was another part of the fortification system that defended the right hand side of the Sovara valley. The earliest documentation shows Enrico di Barnabò of the Lombards of Galbino defending Toppole on behalf of the Abbey of Santa Flora of Arezzo. In 1142, the castle was given to the monks of Camaldoli together with a part of the castles of Pianettole and Valialle. Toppole was granted to Anghiari by Raniere of Galbino and it then followed the same fortunes as all the towns and villages of the Upper Tiber Valley until they came first under the dominion of Guido Tarlati of Arezzo and then of Florence.

The church of San Clemente is in the middle of the castle complex. It was certainly in existence in the first half of the 8 C but some tombs that have recently been discovered indicate a history going back even further than that. The apse is the oldest part of the church, originally built with a Greek cross form. Its conversion into the Latin cross form goes back to the mid 1800's. 

Close to Toppole and linked to it by a footpath is Badia San Veriano which has an important Romanesque church.

Pianettole

Castello di Pianettole

Pianettole is in a fairly good state of repair and thus represents a nice example of a mediaeval fortified habitation with a high, encircling stone wall and a tower guarding the west facing gateway.

The tower still has its wooden attics linked by stairways and there is a big fireplace on the first floor. The history of Pianettole is linked, at least in part, to the presence of the Camaldulian Monks in the Tiber Valley.

Churches that were attached to many of the castles in the area were frequently donated or dedicated to the Camaldulians, allowing the order to insinuate itself between the Diocese of Arezzo and Città di Castello until finally the Vicar of Città di Castello called upon the Emperor Frederick II to intervene in defence of his possessions.

In 1502, Sansepolcro was given the territories of Anghiari and Pieve Santo Stefano by Piero de' Medici and its citizens took immediate advantage of the opportunity to knock down the castle of Anghiari and, at the same time, the Castle of Pianettole.

Castle of Montauto

Castello Montauto

Montauto was already in existence during the period of the Etruscans (approximately 8th to 5th centuries BC ), who took advantage of the rich copper mines in its territory. It was a Roman and then Byzantine lookout tower and came under the control of the feudal Lord Goffredo, son on Ildebando, to whom Emperor Otto I conferred the property in the Upper Tiber Valley in 967 AD. The castle itself has its origins in 1170/80 which is the period in which the Lords of Montauto are first mentioned as the feudal rulers.

The castle was the strongest in the area, with three rings of defensive walls and a powerful keep. The importance of the castle was principally due to its position: at a height of over 700 m, it was, to all intents and purposes, impregnable (except to the craftiness of the Florentines - hah, come sono furbi, i fiorentini - anche oggi), with two sides sheer right down to the Sovara river, one protected by the rocks of the mountain and the front, facing the only route of access, heavily fortified and from which its domination of the surrounding territory was total.

It was also the place where St. Francis of Assisi liked to pause during his journeys to and from La Verna and, until 1503, the cassock that he had been wearing when he received the stigmata at La Verna was kept and treasured in the Chapel of Montauto. 1503 was, in fact, the year that the Florentines took the castle by trickery and all of its treasures were stolen.

The castle was eventually almost totally destroyed before being rebuilt in the Renaissance era, the most obvious sign of which is the beautiful corner tower with its steep, conical base facing the access route and attributed to the architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini.

The mullioned windows and finishing touches to the loggias were added soon afterwards when the castle became a family home.

Apart from the chapel mentioned above, Montauto also has a larger church with a lovely carved doorway and external fortifications. The castle and its surrounding estates are still owned by the Count Babolani di Montauto family.

Castello di Galbino

Castello Galbino

The Castle of Galbino is located between the Sovara river and the Libbia main road, and was part of the feudal domain of Conte Ranieri and can therefore trace its origins back at least to the year 1000. The castle was subsequently converted into a private residence, and now has a basic square shape with a raised central section and four round towers on the corners. Elegant arched loggias with stone columns, added during its renaissance period conversion, run along two sides.

The castle can be seen particularly well from the little road that links the village of Tavernelle to the ex-convent of San Niccolò a Gello.

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