How to reach
The Tower of Galatrona is situated at an altitude of about 500 mt. above sea level on a hill in a strategic position, overlooking the towns of Torre, Mercatale Valdarno and San Leolino. It can be reached from the A1 Motorway, exit Valdarno and follow the directions for Bucine / Mercatale.
From the Parish Church of Galatrona begins a path in the woods. Following them, after passing the Tower of Galatrona you arrive at San Leolino and continuing on the ridge, at Cennina. For the more adventurous you should go ahead on the right with a wonderful walk uphill towards Solata, a village of 600 mt. a.s.l. inhabited only in summer, offering a spectacular view. From Solata, continuing on the right, you can easily return to Mercatale, the starting point of excursion.
Visible from great part of the Valdarno and Valdambra, the Tower of Galatrona is what remains of one of the most important castles of the territory. For its strategic position it is assumed that the hill was object of ancient settlements. Some experts indicate Galatrona as name derived from the Etruscan, traces of some walls formed by large, elliptical-shaped sandstone, positioned around the tower, indicating the presence of a Etruscan-Roman period fort.
The first certain notices of the castle date back to year 963, when in an act is quoted Galatrona (with the old name as Canastruna) as stronghold controlling a large territory, in particularly the road that came from Bucine/Rendola. Until the beginning of the 13th century, the story of Galatrona is linked, like all the Valdambra, with the struggles between Florence and Arezzo first and between Florence and Siena then. In the 12th century the castle become part of the Viscount of Valdambra and in 1220 Emperor Frederick II confirmed the ownership of the castle to the Counts Guidi. As a result of wars waged by the Tarlati from Arezzo against the families of Guidi and Umbertini between 1318 and 1321, the castle was occupied by the Tarlati and came under the dominion of Arezzo.
In year 1335, with the decline of the Tarlati and of the town of Arezzo, the Florentines occupied the Castle of Canastruna. From the act of submission to the Florentine Republic (on November 3rd of that year) is clear the existence of two towers: one called "old", that no longer exists, given in the custody Piero Jannuzzi and a second "new" entrusted to Gino Cociacchi.
The castle was occupied in 1529 by the troops of Prince d 'Orange, like the entire Valdambra. From a cartography of the year 1584 the fortified walls of the castle looked already in disuse. A painting of 1600, kept in the parish church of S. John the Baptist in Galatrona, represents in the background the castle with two towers, one of which is in ruin, a clear sign of the abandonment of the site. From then and until the present day, the castle lost its military role and was not involved in events of historical importance, passing directly from a total abandonment to the recent restoration.
The tower rises from the ground for about 27 meters and is built in sandstone. The sides of the square base have a width of 7 meters, measure that remains unchanged up to the top. After climbing a small staircase, built during the works of restoration, we arrive at the unique gate of access located at an height of 4 meters above the ground (to access the tower once were used folding stairs). Inside the building is divided into six floors plus a terrace roof. The first floor has a barrel vault in bricks, and from the floor is possible, through a trap door, access the underlying 8 meters deep cistern.
The habitable area of the tower is extremely narrow, with each side of 3.40 meters. This is due to the thickness of the walls, a feature that gave strength and endurance. A recent iron staircase leads to the second floor, even this with a barrel vault. Construction continues its ascent with other 4 storeys with wooden floors.
In the restoration have been conserved the measures of the original plans. From the second to fifth floor, there are 4 narrow arrow slits, one for each side. On the top floor there is a small window on all sides. The Tower was closed with a terrace of stone slabs (some originals) of about 7 meters per side. The floor is supported by a third barrel vault in bricks. Externally you can still see much of the original corbels that supported the wooden balcony from which the guards did their job. The terrace can be accessed climbing a steep staircase of iron and from here it possible to dominate a large territory of the Val d'Arno and Valdambra.
More info & notes
The Tower can be visited from April to October: every Saturday afternoon from 15.00 to 19.00, every Sunday from 10.00 to 12.00 and from 15.00 to 19.00.
For information: Group "Amici della Torre" ph.. + 39 339/6749080