CASTIGLION FIORENTINO | TUSCANY
Castiglion Fiorentino is a small, walled city in eastern Tuscany, Italy, in the province of Arezzo, between the cities of Arezzo and Cortona. It is well known for its annual festivals and Etruscan archeological site. Castiglion Fiorentino lies at the centre of a triangle formed by the cities of Florence, Siena and Perugia. Situated on a hilltop, 400 meters above sea level, the town overlooks the Val di Chio and the Preappenines. Slightly more than 13,000 people live in the city (2013). The village of Manciano, known locally as "Misericordia", lies a mile to the west.
HISTORY OF CASTIGLION FIORENTINO
Due to the overall infrastructure, town walls, and building architecture, for many years scholars considered the town to have been established in the late medieval time frame. More recent excavations, however, have found the remains of an Etruscan city wall (c. 4th century BC) underneath the current Piazzale del Cassero, and have discovered the remains of an Etruscan temple under one of the town's churches, la chiesa di Sant'Angelo, which was built in the twelfth century. Documents from the 10th century mention a town named "Castiglione" in the feudal property of the Marquis of Monte Santa Maria. During the following century, the town became a part of the Diocese of Arezzo. From the 12th century the town was a free commune, until 1289 when, in the wake of the battle of Campaldino, it became part of the Republic of Florence. Arezzo and Siena joined forces against the Florentines in later years and reconquered Castiglione Aretino (as it was known then), which was then fortified under the direction of Bishop Guido Tarlati, Lord of Arezzo. Following Tarlati's death in 1336, Florence again gained control of Castiglione, until 1344, when it was acquired by Perugia, and renamed Castiglione Perugino. In 1369 the townspeople revolted against the Perugians, giving themselves to the Papal States; by 1384 the Florentines seized the town and bestowed its current name, Castiglione Fiorentino. During the 15th century, Castiglion Fiorentino suffered from repeated outbreaks of the plague, blamed at the time on the marshy areas surrounding the city. At the dawn of the 16th century, the Sienese army, led by Pietro Strozzi, gained control of the area, holding Castiglion Fiorentino until 1654, when the area became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. For the next two hundred years, the Medici Grand Dukes ruled the city, until in 1765 the House of Lorraine gained power. The new dynasty encouraged the reclamation of marshlands, leading to a period of economic and population growth for Castiglion Fiorentino. From 1800 to 1814, the town was garrisoned by Napoleon's troops. After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the town was returned to Tuscany, to which it remained until 1861, when the Grand Duchy was annexed to the newly created Kingdom of Italy. Military activity during World War II damaged part of the town center as well as much of the surrounding countryside.
WHAT TO SEE IN CASTIGLION FIORENTINO
The first of the existing city walls, including Porta Fiorentina, the main entrance to the town's historical center, was erected in the 13th century, then enlarged in the 14th under the Perugians to connect the castle to the outside walls. An anti-gate containing the Medici coat of arms is located outside of the walls, while the inside of the gate is constructed of three arches under a statue of the town's patron saint, St. Michael. The town's fortress, the Cassero, was completed in 1367. In the 15th century, the nuns of San Girolamo used the fortress as a convent, and by the 19th century much of the fortress had been destroyed, with the remaining structure used as a prison. The Pinacoteca, or Municipal Art Gallery, occupies the former church of Sant'Angelo. Built on the site of an Etruscan temple, the church of Sant'Angelo was built in Romanesque style between 1229 and 1239. The church has served as a hospital, wine cellar, and workshop before being renovated and used as an official museum and art gallery. In 1513 Vasari constructed a nine arch loggia (Logge del Vasari) in Piazza del Comune, overlooking the valley. The Logge were restored once between 1560 and 1570 and then again in the first part of the 20th century. Nearby is the Castello di Montecchio, which once was given to the British mercenary John Hawkwood.