Rocca of Pietracassia
Left: the walled curtain of the castle.
Right: the keep.
The dramatically located ruins of the Rocca di Pietracassia are not
easily reachable. Coming from Florence you have to follow the motorway S.G.C.
FI-PI-LI until the exit 'Pontedera',
from here drive into the SS64 toward Peccioli,
then at La Rosa di
Terricciola, turn right on the SS439 to Lajatico.
Arrived at La Sterza continue on the Strada
Provinciale di Lajatico, pass through the village and exit its
historical center following the road sign 'Tutte
You will found here the first indication for the Rocca. After about
500 meters a second road sign will take you on a secondary road. You
can go onward with the car for about 4 kilometres [after
the first one the road is non asphalted]
until the watershed called Poggio
delle Cataste [450 mt.] where you must leave the vehicle. Go ahead
on the wood path for about 2 kilometres and
you will reach the Rocca, from the crag side, at 532 of altitude.
Plan » More Photos
be considered one of the most important High Middle
Age monuments in the province
The great calcareous rock, of 532 meters of altitude, crowned
by the Rocca,
dominates the ancient road that connect the Valdera with
the Valdicecina, and on the north side is naturally
protected by a bulge of about 80 meters. The name Pietracassia comes,
a crack opened in
the rock ('Pietra
cassa' means cracked stone) but some historians connect
this name with the one of the Roman triumvir
Its location was, already in the Etruscan era, ideal
to control the main road used for the carriage of the copper
extracted in the near Montecatini mines.
We don't have notices to set the exact year of construction of the
first settlement on this site. The first written notices date back
1028 a. C.: Pietracassia is named as strategically stronghold
on the border between the Diocese of Volterra and Pisane
At the beginning of 12th century the Rocca was purchased by
the Bishop of Volterra. After the Meloria
August 1284) the fortification became possession of Florence. Volterra
regained it in 1355.
The fortified complex is composed by two different structures: the
the most ancient nucleus,
and the Rocca, a walled enclosure that encircle the castle,
built along the ridge of the hill.
Both parts are not complete in their perimeter: the north side is constituted
by the ridge.
quite impossible to fix a date for the construction of the Castle,
some not confirmed theories, indicate its birth as watchtower
erected here by the Longbeards. The structure is
made up of by a compact and
massive square enclosure without crenellation and
the main front turned south. The loopholes and other openings that
can see today are of a later
age. The only architectonic valuable elements are the two angle
one with quadrilateral shape - the western tower,
today inaccessible - heptagonal shaped the other one - the eastern
tower, still today in
good conditions and accessible: inside a beautiful barrel vault in
be still admired.
The only gate to access the castle, currently seriously damaged,
is opened at the center of the main curtain, elevated from the
ground of about two meters. The inside buildings,
lodging and the services for the troops, are no
The rests of the keep are instead visible: the great
tower rise on the vertex of the rocky hill but now is for great part
collapsed. It was used also as watch tower connected at sight with
castles of Montevaso, Chianti, Terricciola, Lajatico, Orciatico, Peccioli,
From here the
panorama on the countryside is grandiose.
The Rocca was
built about two centuries after the castle. Approximately, considering
structure and technique constructive of the walls, it can be dated 13th
century, in the period of maximum splendour of the Pisane
The large stone blocks used are cut with precision, even if
their positioning is less accurate and
have less thickness than in the castle itself, the spaces between the
with mortar. It seems that this second enclosure was
erected to transform Pietracassia
in a walled village, surrounding the civil buildings
rose around the castle, but it is more reasonable to think that the Rocca
has been constructed
to strengthen the castle on its most exposed
side, taking maximum advantage of the hill morphology. The walls are
constructed with a technique that allow the defensive flanking
In the curtain
only a gate is opened, still
good conditions, just under the heptagonal tower of
the castle, that acted also as ulterior defence of the main access. Before
the gate are
still identifiable some steps carved in the rock.
The decline of the fortress began in 1405 when
the Pisane Peter Gaetani delivered it to the Florentine.
In 1431, Pietracassia rebelled to the Florentine dominion, obtaining
to be demolished for reprisal to its infidelity: in 1434
Republic re conquered it and ordered the dismantling of the keep.
The distance from the main inhabited center allowed the Rocca to reach until
substantial structural modifications if not
those provoked from the usury of the time.