Verrucole fortress

The place:

Verrucole fortress, located in the municipality of San Romano in Garfagnana, in the tiny village of Verrucole, is one of the most interesting and best preserved examples of medieval military buildings of the Garfagnana region. The structure is placed on top of a long and narrow hill (the place name “Verrucole” precisely indicates a rocky and almost inaccessible hill) from which you can enjoy a stunning panorama on the Apuan Alps and Apennine mountains.

History:

The fortress was inhabitated by the powerful Gherardinghi family up to 1285. During the middle age, Garfagnana region was a disputed territory among the local feudal families (such as the Gherardinghi) and the town of Lucca. Despite the alliance with Pisa, the Gherardinghi family was defeated in 1170. After this defeat, they lost many properties (including the Verrucole fortress) in favour of Lucca. Then, the Gherardinghi regained their possessions in 1185 thanks to the emperor, Frederick the first, and they lived there for about a century.

The City of Lucca got the possession of the the fortress again; in 1430, it was Florentines turn, and finally, in 1446, the Este family, (the dukes of Ferrara and Modena), got their control over the entire Garfagnana and over the Verrucole fortress until the end of the 18th century.

The architecture:

Originally, the structure was composed by two parts located at the two ends of the rocky hill: the “Rocca Tonda” (currently still visible and completely renovated), on the southern part of the hill and the “Rocca Quadra”, (north). The “Rocca Tonda” is the oldest part of the fortress (it dates back to the 11th century.), it has octagonal shape, it is accessible by a stone staircase; inside this building, there was the home of the Lord, while, at the foot of the stairs, it’s still visible a chapel with two nice columns and decorated capitals. The “Rocca Tonda” has a crenellated wall facing the south side.

On the opposite side (north), there was the “Rocca Quadra” (no more on the place, today). It performed military garrison function and was replaced in the era Este by two powerful bastions.

The Archeopark:

today, the fortress houses the “Archeopark”: a real interactive area created by the association “Mansio Hospitalis Lucensis” and dedicated to medieval life. Costumed guides will accompany visitors to discover the secrets of the old buildings and of the medieval lifestyle. It will also be possible for everyone, children and adults, to participate to several educational workshops (medieval fighting with bows and crossbows, medieval hand writing and miniatures, preparation of medieval medical products with the use of plants and herbs, learning of the ancient weaving techniques etc ….).

The cogwheel train:

from 2018 a mini cogwheel train brings visitors from the small village of Verrucole to the fortress allowing everybody to easily reach the old military infrastructure.