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fortifications

Rocca of Castelnuovo Garfagnana


typology: Rocca e cinta muraria,Seconda metà del Quattrocento
Area: Garfagnana
District/Locality: Castelnuovo di Garfagnana
First news: Xth-XIth century

Inside the walls of Castelnuovo, the rocca built by the Dukes of Este incorporates part of them to the west and dominates the main square with its solid trapezoidal form, which appears lighter because of the presence of two small inner courts. Irregular in its layout, the compact volume of the structure is marked by an escarpment on its sides and lightened at the top by a gallery jutting out on stone brackets. The portion of wall near the piazza is closed between two massive cylindrical bastions, while a smaller rectangular tower in front of the entrance completes the enclosure, inside which the heavy quadrangular mass of the tower, today the town's clock tower, stands out.
With its low escarpment the fifteenth century rectangular tower used to be accessible only by a gangway; it preserves traces of the early structure in the loopholes on the first and second floors, later covered up by other constructions.
State of preservation

Town Hall until the end of the Second World War, the rocca of Castelnuovo was heavily bombed in 1944 and as a result the original structure was seriously damaged. The subsequent restoration has drastically changed the original aspect of much of the complex.
The rocca now houses administrative offices, an archive and an archaeological museum with finds from the upper Serchio valley.
Historycal news

The existence of a small fortification at the confluence of the Serchio since the Xth or XIth century is confirmed by surviving parts of wall, recently discovered on the ground floor of the rocca. Placed on the road along the valley, this small, probably quadrangular structure was enlarged during the thirteenth century, though it remained pretty simple until the intervention of Castruccio Castracani degli Antelminelli who intended to consolidate the dominion of Lucca in the area around 1324. It was Paolo Guinigi who requested the construction of the impressive tower at the centre of the rocca, later handed over to the Dukes of Este in 1430. The Duke' s representatives chose to reside here and the garrison of Castelnuovo grew with its newly acquired administrative and defensive role; it was provided with thicker walls, two cylindrical bastions and a rectangular tower. The description Ariosto, who lived in the Rocca, gives of it confirms the relative simplicity of the residence, at least until it was further enlarged in the second half of the sixteenth century. When in 1585 the nearby fortress of Montalfonso was completed, the rocca lost its military functions in favour of administrative ones.

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