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Castello dei Vicari, Lari, Pisa, Toscana, Italy

A Renaissance fortress in the heart of the Tuscan hills, the castle also hosts a Museum with archaeological items collected in the area, and fine works of art, as well as being a great example of military architecture.
Castello dei Vicari - Lari - Toscana Thanks to its dominant position on the Arno valley as far as the coast of Leghorn, the Castle was an important military stronghold of the Pisa Republic and later of the Florentine government.

Visiting Details

How to reach it by road: 80 km from Florence, 10 km from exit Pontedera-Ponsacco along the highway Firenze-Pisa-Livorno; from Livorno exit Lavoria, then proceed towards Cenaia - Quattro Strade - Perignano; from A12, exit Collesalvetti which is about 15 km from Lari, then proceed towards Cenaia; from A11 exit Altopascio, then proceed towards Pontedera, Ponsacco.

Address and Contacts: Associazione Culturale "Il Castello", piazza del Castello 1, 56035 LARI (PI) - Telephone: (+39) 0587 684126 - (+39) 334 3963782 Website: http://www.castellodilari.it

HISTORY

The castle rises in the centre of Lari, a medieval borough already inhabited in Etruscan times. A fortress existed already in the 10th century AD, was made into a fortress by the Upezzinghi family in the early 13th century, and reached the height of its power starting from the 1406, when Lari was conquered by Florence and became the headquarters of the Florentine governors of the area, and for over 4 centuries was the administrative center of one third of the Province of Pisa, until its jurisdiction was abolished when the Tuscany Dukedom was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. Under the Florentine period the castle was embellished with great works of art, and the military features were renovated and improved.

DESCRIPTION

The facade is decorated with over 90 coat of arms of the many Governors who lived in the castle, made by many artists in the course of time, among them Andrea (1435-1525), Andrea the Young (1475-1548), Giovanni della Robbia (1469-1529), Benedetto (1461-1521) and Santi Buglione (1494-1576).
At the center of the courtyard is the Chapel of the "Sposalizio della Vergine" with 10 small cells where the prisoners were brought to follow religious services.

Inside the castle are frescoes by Andrea from Pisa and Friar Bartolomeo della Porta, a Virgin with Child by Andrea della Robbia ordered for the bedroom of Governor Alessandro Segni. Other interesting sights are the Torture Chamber, the prisons which were nicknamed "Inferno" and which were used until 1934, and the walking path all around the castle, where historical re-enactments are often staged. The castle has of course also its ghost, Rosso della Paola, an anti-Fascist who died, according to the guards, committing suicide, but most probably killed during his imprisonment.

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