Fortress of Berignone
The ruins of the Castello dei Vescovi (literally “Castle
of the Bishops”), also called “Torraccia”, are found
in the Berignone-Tatti forest, situated at about eight linear miles south-southeast
of Volterra. The easiest itinerary for reaching the isolated castle takes
about half a day. From Volterra follow the SS68 towards Castel S. Gimignano/Siena,
and after about 5 km turn right towards Mazzolla. Before you reach the
town, take the unpaved road that curves to the left and then turn right
at the first crossroad. Follow this road until you reach the Batazzone
farm and from her take the sharp left that goes into the Fosci valley.
Continue along this road until you reach the chain that block the road
where you will need to leave your car, and from where you need to go
on foot or by mountain bike. After passing Capannone, you will reach
the site of the ruins in about 45 minutes.
» Where is Berignone-Tatti
castle know as the “Fortress of Berignone” (from
the name of the forest in which it is located, a large forest complex
that even today still maintains its incredible natural beauty), “Castle
of the Bishops” or simply “Torraccia”,
is an important fortification south of Volterra on a
rocky spur where the Rio canyon and the Sellate stream meet, in the upper
There is documentation of the castle already in the year
896 when Adalberto Marquis of Tuscany gifts it to Alboino,
the Bishop of Volterra. Since then it has been a fortress and
also the residence of the Bishops of Volterra (hence
its name), used for administering justice, for minting coins, but above
all as a refuge during the long struggle against the Comune.
More than once, the Bishops retreated in order to avoid retaliation
as they did after their victory in Benevento when they escaped to the
fortress in order to avoid the assault of the Ghibellines.
In 1361 Berignone revolts against
the Comune of Volterra, but is quickly brought back to order.
In 1381, the inhabitants of Berignone themselves ask for Volterra’s
help in defending the castle, now occupied by relatives of
Simone dei Fagani di Reggio, Bishop of Volterra. Several skirmishes
followed until peace was finally declared on the 5th of February
in 1382. In 1399 the castle was again occupied by the Sienese
and from this moment the fortress began its decline.
Today, only ruins remain to dominate this vast
forest, populated by boar, deer, and birds of prey, but just
by looking at these ruins one can imagine the architectural strength
and elegance of these ancient buildings.