Rocca of Radicofani

How to reach

The mighty Fortress of Radicofani rises at the southern extremity of the Val d'Orcia, on a rocky hill between Mount Amiata and the Tuscan borderline with Umbria and Lazio. It can be reached easily following a deviation of the SS.2 Cassia. The hill can be seen from every point from kilometers. Radicofani is listed in the World Heritage List of UNESCO as part of the Orcia Valley Park.


The mighty Rocca of Radicofani rises from the dark ages before the year 1000; it was named for the first time in 973 on the top of an imposing basaltic cliff of 896 meters high, from which it dominates the whole territory set between Mount Cetona, the Orcia Valley, and Mount Amiata. To its feet passed an ancient footstep of the Roman Cassia road, then named Francigena or Romea, and it was without doubt this fact that caused its birth and its big role in history. For a long time, it was strongly tied to this road. The pass of Radicofani was at the center of a unique historical episode: toward the second half of the 15th century, the Senesi, worried by the fact that a part of the road resulted in being hardly controllable from the Fortress, replaced this, after having made it inagible, with a new layout that passed under the fortifications.


For its strategic importance, the Fortress was contended for a long time, and it is almost impossible to trace the whole eventful history. Initially, Radicofani was under the control of the Benedictine Abbey of Mount Amiata but soon, first the counts of the Aldobrandeschi family in 1081, then the counts of Chiusi, the Manenti of Sarteano, tried to replace the monks. The Senese control began in 1139, when the count Manente da Pepone gave a sixth part of the castle to the Bishop of Siena. But the monks didn't surrender, and with the help of the Roman Church, Pope Eugene III granted them the perpetual location of half of the fortress. Pope Adriano IV, successor of Eugene, reinforced the castle, and in 1198, Innocenzo III started great new works on the fortification. From this period on, Radicofani was often at the center of the ongoing struggles between Siena and Orvieto, a city allied with Florence, with the constant intervention of the Roman Papacy. Here I remember only the principal historical facts: in 1262, the fortress became the seat of the family Salimbeni; Guelphs escaped from Siena; in the following years, the Senesi regained and destroyed the walls of Radicofani. The situation repeated itself in the years 1264-65, then there was a revolt against the power of the Church (1284), and in 1295 the castle became the eagle nest of the famous captain of venture Ghino di Tacco, who from here launched numerous attacks on the Senesi. In 1301–1302, Radicofani was again at the center of the war conducted by Guido of Montfort and Margherita Aldobrandeschi, Ghibelline, against the Guelphs Commons allied with the Pope. The Guelphs won the war, and the fortress remained in peace for a long time under the control of the papacy.

Siena began to move with the decision in 1352 to take back possession of Radicofani, but the strong controversy between the two adversaries ended with the papal concession of the castle dominion to the Salimbeni family. Finally, in 1405, the Senese Republic and the Salimbeni signed the peace, and the castle passed to Siena. In 1417, the construction of the new bastionated fortress around the original medieval nucleus began. After years of skirmishes and secondary passages of ownership that always ended with the return of Radicofani to Siena, we arrive at the last remarkable historical fact that interested the fortress: in 1555, it was besieged, bombed, and invaded by the Imperial army.

The primitive fortresses have an almost triangular plan and are gifted with a mighty keep. They were totally reconstructed during the works of restoration that were done in 1929. Very interesting are also the rests of the other sides of the most ancient core, with the rests of machicoulis for the outside defense and of two other angle towers. Around this is developed the first bastionated fortress enclosure built in beautiful worked stones with four irregular sides. This fortress was subsequently widened toward the north, being the south side already naturally protected from a strong gorge, with another walled enclosure, but of these boundaries don't remain great traces, with the exception of an angle bastion where the ancient gate of access is opened. The two bastionated walls enclose, in practice, the whole basaltic cliff on two different levels, making it almost impossible to reach the heart of the fortification from any side. The castle is, from the Juanary 1999 after a great work of restoration, reopened to the public.

More info & notes

Parco Museo Città Fortificata di Radicofani

Phone: +39 339 8283 953 Fax: +39 0578 55876