Castiglione di Garfagnana, the fortified village

the fortress of castiglione di garfagnana from the belvedere with a peculiar blue sign in the foreground indicating kissing at the view of the wonderful panorama

Castiglione di Garfagnana, the fortified village

Garfagnana is definitely one of my favorite areas of Tuscany, and among the many villages and the many wonderful creations of nature and man (such as the Verrucole Fortress e the Hermitage of Calomini) that can be visited here, one struck me the most. I am talking about Castiglione di Garfagnana, the thousand-year-old fortified village and one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.

Situated on a hill at an elevation of 545 m above sea level in Upper Garfagnana in a position from which it dominates the entire valley below. Even today, the entire village of Castiglione di Garfagnana lies within the medieval walls at the top of which is the mighty fortress. These two features put together make this village really special and to be explored with a lot of desire. Let us now go together to see a bit of the history of the village and then what to see in Castiglione di Garfagnana.


a distinctive contemporary metal structure placed on top of a masonry and overlooking the entire green valley and the mountains of the garfagnana
A distinctive contemporary structure placed in front of the entrance to the village

The history of Castiglione di Garfagnana

The history of Castiglione di Garfagnana originates in the second century B.C. when the Romans founded a military camp here to defend the conquered territories. Throughout the Middle Ages the area was the protagonist of numerous battles because of its strategic location, the town being situated on the road that crossed the Apennines to present-day Emilia-Romagna. Proof of this are the mighty walls that served precisely to defend the territory. In 1371 Castiglione came back under the power of Lucca, which decided to build stronger walls with towers, the one still visible today. After other episodes of subjugation, Castiglione remained in the territories of the Este family. Only with the arrival of Napoleon in 1806 was the village assigned to the Principality of Lucca.

a close look at the walls of castiglione

What to see in Castiglione di Garfagnana

Passing through the Ponte Levatoio gate, one enters the village and is immediately thrown into the history of Castiglione di Garfagnana. Here are the most beautiful things to see in the village during a short visit.

Castle Square

It is the main square of Castiglione di Garfagnana, and here you will find the 16th-century Palace of Parliament, now the town hall, and in the center the medieval Well that was used to supply water to the inhabitants during emergencies.

Belvedere over the Serchio Valley

Walking through the small historic village you will come across a large terrace. This is the Belvedere over the Serchio Valley, the most striking place in all of Castiglione di Garfagnana because here you can admire the beauty of the Serchio Valley and the high Apuan Alps on one side and the majestic medieval fortress from afar on the other.

a wooden bench in front of a small wall that then overlooks the beautiful green valley and in the background with the high mountains of the Apuan Alps. This is the viewpoint of Castiglione di Garfagnana
The bench in front of the viewpoint over the Serchio Valley.

The Rock

The medieval fortress is definitely the symbol of Castiglione di Garfagnana and part of the original core of the town. It has three mighty and defensive walls (later rebuilt in the 15th century), Today it is privately owned and very often closed to the public. It is possible to visit it with a guide by calling or contacting the Pro Loco of Castiglione (HERE I leave you their official page).

Remembrance Park

It is so named in memory of the victims of World War I. The central driveway will lead you to aterrace from which there is a beautiful view of the valley, the Apuan Alps, and especially the walls of Castiglione di Garfagnana.

the medieval fortress of castiglione seen from a distance from the belvedere

St. Peter's Church

It stands at the foot of the fortress and is the oldest church in Castiglione di Garfagnana, as it was built in the year 723. Only the side walls remain of the original structure. Inside you will find three valuable wooden statues.

St. Michael's Church

It was built in the early 15th century and features a distinctive late-Gothic facade with gray stone and pink marble. Inside you can admire the valuable painted panel of the "Madonna with Child" and a wonderful wooden crucifix.

The hamlet

Castiglione di Garfagnana with its many characteristic stone houses and narrow alleys will absolutely know how to take you in. Strolling through it will be truly relaxing and enjoyable for you. In addition, visiting the walls with ancient gates such as the Porta degli Inferi and Porta Nuova and the towers (Torrione dell'Orologio, Torrione San Pietro, Torrione di San Michele) will make you feel like you are in another era.

an alley within the historic village of castiglione


Gabriele Orbetti
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