There are thousands of wonderful old villages to visit in Italy. Some are in green valleys, some cling like limpets to hillsides and lots sit prettily on the tops of hills.
We called in to hilltop gem Castiglion Fiorentino on our way from Arezzo to Cortona. The Etruscans appear to be the earliest inhabitants, and remains of a temple have been found beneath a 12th century church.
We parked just outside the town and walked through Porta Fiorentina in the city walls.
We found a lively main street lined with shops and cafes. It is great to see a thriving community in an old setting.
The town is well cared for and there are pretty narrow streets.
We came upon the Logge del Vasari, which is attributed to Vasari, but was actually built by master craftsmen Bernado del Ghirba and Filippo Bellinzona in 1513. Vasari restored it between 1560 and 1570 when the Medici coat of arms was added and the walls plastered white with stone mouldings. The colourful chairs were part of an art installation.
There are spectacular views of the Val di Chio from the stone arches.
On the other side of the road is the impressive Comune building which boasts a gorgeous staircase from 1560.
A walk up the steep street beside the building will take you up to the town’s fortress, the Cassero which was completed in 1367. In the 15th century the fortress was occupied by the nuns of San Girolama. By the 19th century much of the fortress had been destroyed and some of the remaining structure was used as a prison.
There were some impressive views from this side of town too.
Torre del Cassero still stands. It was rebuilt around 1350 under Perugian rule. The tower stands on a former base.
There is a lovely park at the entrance to the town, a great place for the locals to gather.
Castiglion Fiorentino is home to many festivals, including the Palio dei Rioni, which is a horse race around Piazza Garribaldi with flag waving and others marvels. It dates back to the 13th century. It is held on the 3rd Sunday of June…we must return.