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fortifications

Tower and Rocca of Ghivizzano


typology: Torre e Rocca,sec. XIII-XIV
Area: Mediavalle
District/Locality: Coreglia Antelminelli, locality Ghivizzano

The fortress of Ghivizzano was one of the most important Medieval military garrisons in the mid Serchio valley.
It stands at the top of a hill not far above the valley floor and represents a characteristic landmark, easily spotted by all those passing by along the road together with the bell tower of the parish church of SS. Pietro and Paolo.
The village grew in concentric circles at the foot of the fortress.
It had a function of short range control of the surrounding territory, roads, fords and bridges; for quite a long period the tower was also the private residence of local lords that had the privilege of collecting taxes and duties.
In time some internal utilities removed, the wall was lowered and the site transformed in agricultural land; despite all these changes the fortified complex has preserved its original character of Medieval fortress.
State of preservation

The fortress has been private property for over a century. In 1925 it was donated to the parish and now it is under municipal administration with plans to restore and recover it for the public.
The tower is well preserved, while the walls of the rocca need some repair.
Historycal news

When in 1272 the garrison passed definitely under Lucca the fortress already existed.
In 1316 it was, together with Coreglia, a stronghold of Guelph resistance against Castruccio Castracani. When he conquered the fortress, the castle was enlarged and became important for the control of the Serchio valley.
The tower had considerable dimensions and could house a large number of soldiers and arms; moreover, the well defended position of the fortress, together with its healthy climate, made it an ideal residence for important Lucchese personalities such as Paolo Guinigi who took refuge here with all his family and entourage during the 1418 pest in Lucca. In 1408 heavy rains caused the collapse of a 38 m long portion of wall, whereas in 1410 the 'Vicario' (Lieutenant), Landuccio Menabuoi, informed Paolo Guinigi that the restoration of castle, rocca and sleeping quarters within the tower had been completed.
In 1430, when the Seigniory of the Guinigi over Lucca ended, the Vicariate of Coreglia fell into the hands of Francesco Sforza and for 4 years Ghivizzano was the centre of a small state; it then became a stable possession of the Lucchese Republic, until the latter became Principality under Napoleon.
Roads

The complex is situated at the top of a hill controlling the road along the Serchio; to reach it turn off state road n. 445 at Ghivizzano and follow the communal road up to the historic centre of the hamlet called Ghivizzano Castello. You can park near the castle and continue on foot.

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