Castello del Poggiarello di Stigliano

An historical medieval castle in Tuscany, in wich three of the castle’s houses and the Tower, a true defensive Donjon, surrounded by private gardens, and provided with a pool, are reserved to guests. The buildings have been gently coaxed into comfortable dwellings with state-of-the-art bathrooms, kitchen equipment and central heating, and carefully furnished with valuable local antique pieces, while retaining those enthralling details which really make you enjoy the traditional tuscan style, and experience the beautiness of the true italian taste. It’s fascinating to feel how the changes taking place in this ancient castle of Poggiarello, adapting itself to contemporary use with grace, whispering intimate details of its past, are always keeping to the forefront the dignity and mystery of its past, thereby yet still preserving its precious heritage. The owners, a fascinating banker/local historian and his sons, who have made extensive studies of the district, are also living here, and caring this same place from almost half a century and can provide interested guests with good suggestions, and local history. Most of the history of the castle, and of this family, it’s readable into a blog, The hill of Poggiarello, where is located the castle, it’s just above the village of Stigliano, into the Merse Valley, on the first slopes of the woody Colline Metallifere, 20 kms away from Siena, only a 10 min. drive along the 223 state road. One feels the long work along centuries the ancestors of Stigliano did to provide this beautiful, relaxing landscape. Guests may walk or ride mountain bikes to further explore this quiet oasis of peace and natural beauty. The ancient tower and the other buildings of the castle enclose a space at the top of a hill, with panoramic views toward the skyline of the Siena’s towers in the foreground, and the Chianti Mountains. From the furnished gardens it’s possible to dine or simply to relax enjoying the views. At the back of Stigliano there is a large wild area, with plenty of wildlife, and interesting tracks to the misterious celtic ruins of Sienavecchia, or to the lonely, almost hidden castle in Tuscany of Castiglioni, named ‘only god knows where is’. A good restaurant is in the village below, just a short walk away, and other restaurants, in wich are offered the local tradition’s dishes, are placed in Torri, Brenna, Rosia and Orgia, the villages nearby. In the River Merse, located in a protected area(4 kms by car or, along ancient tracks, half an hour on foot), it’s possible to find isolated spots, ideal for swimming. For touring and exploring, the rich heritage of Tuscany is on your doorstep, with good trunk roads within a short drive from Stigliano. The villas of Cetinale, Le Volte, and Celsa are closeby, as well as the medioeval cloister of the Torri’s monastery, and the treasures of Siena and the the ruins of the San Galgano’s abbey(with the sword in the rock) and the other medioeval historical cities of San Gimignano, Volterra, Massa Marittima, Cortona. All facilities are in Rosia, 4 kms away, or in San Rocco, 6 km. away. A day trip to Pienza, with its renaissance architecture, could touch the renowned wine countries of Montalcino and Montepulciano; Florence itself it’s only an hour far away by car.

A few History. The strong, beautiful tower it’s the focal point of the group and is one of the few intact ones remaining in the Siena’s surroundings, with the guard walk running around inside the merlons from which to keep watch as far as Siena. The origins of the castle, still partially obscure, seem to be dued to the Pecci family, rich sienese merchants. Once an important source of metals, the metalliferous hills on which Stigliano is located are now an incredibly beautiful, wooded area, protected for the rare flora and fauna. On the ridges of the hills amongst olive groves and woods, linked by ancient tracks delineated by umbrella pines, there are monasteries, castles, villages and tiny, picturesque hamlets, whose fascinating buildings bring smiles of pleasure to visitors. What makes special and fascinating the Poggiarello’s Caste and the little village of Stigliano itself, composed my many other fortified hamlets, are their historical backgrounds. The history of Stigliano dates back at least as far as Etruscan times(the hill of Poggiarello was a necropolis, with at least 14 tombs). In the Sienavecchia’s hill nearby there are Bronze Age settlements inside walled enclosures. The Metalliferous Hills’ copper, iron and silver deposits were heavily worked in Etruscan, Roman and Medieval times, then declined and the excavation stopped in XVIII century, when the iron production moved to the coast, where had shipping facilities. In middle age important roads(traces are still seen in the nearby “Ponte della Pia”, the beautiful bridge, across which Dante tells us that Pia de’ Tolomei travelled to her destiny in the Maremma) acrossed the area to reach the metal industry, placed along the rivers, to use the hydraulic power. This medioeval first industrial revolution flowered at its height in the 13th C. and the district in wich was Stigliano had then an enormous importance to Siena, finding itself along the Merse river a place to locate its own public mills to grind the wheat to feed its large population. The castle of Poggiarello, named Stigliano Pecci by the family who built and owned for some centuries the property, suffered many incursions and sieges in its life. Was destroyed three times. The news preserved in the archives hint at a surprisingly active commercial past. Silver and copper mining, the iron industry, and the wool, imported from England and France, that became in place an important trading commodity, after the convertion into clothes, to be fulled, again into the rivers. After an economical crisis, caused by wars in northern Europe, at the end of the 13th. C, arrived the Black Plague, causing a furter economical and social involution. Many of these mills and houses fell into disuse. Due to its industrial role this area was abandoned far more completely than agricultural based villages. The later wars with the Empire in the 16th C. pushed the area deeper into depression. Many of the medieval houses have often disappeared, and the agricultural resurgence of the 18th C converted the surviving ones into the large, typical tuscan countryhouses, of wich Casa Ventura is a good example. But architectural fascinating details repay closer looks everywhere, showing the more illustrious origins of the castle.

Casa Ventura was the latest medieval house in this castle in Tuscany to be adapted for holiday rentals, once was for the last 30 years the family’s summerhouse. On the ground floor, a few steps up from the street acrossing the castle, there are two large reception rooms. One is a sitting/living room with a large fireplace and the kitchen equipment at the far end behind a wall. The enormous old fireplace along one side of the room is left as is has been for many centuries year, and is particularly good for cooking on. There is a large dining table in this part of the room. The kitchen end has a marble sink and top quality equipment. A second, large room on this floor is furnished as a sitting room, but it also adapts well as twin bedroom, with two divans and a wardrobe as well as comfortable sitting-room furniture. A back door leads to a private, furnished garden at the rear, which in turn connects with the large communal garden that runs along the walls of the castle. A heavy cast iron spiral staircase leads up to the first floor landing with access to three double bedrooms, a bathroom with shower and a large bathroom with another shower box, a couple of wash basins and a Jacuzzi bathtub. The walls of the house are beautiflly painted in bright colours, as in the past; the furniture is all composed by precious antique pieces, but fittings are modern and high quality.

The tower is one of the most authentic and beautiful still existing in the Siena area. Built in the late 13th. C., was the pivot of a fortress that served originally to protect the flourishing commercial development of the area, but an investment in agricolture also, in the new fields obtained from the recently redeemed plain. The Tower is divided in five levels, each about 55 the ground floor was once separated from the rest, and is voulted to avoid fire problems. It hosted a guard post, connected to the rest with retractile wooden stairs. In later times, early XVI century, outer stairs were added, an unique feature of this tower. Some bastions were added in the early XIV cen. to the walls of the tower to protect from the risks of first black powder’s mines. In upper floors, conceived for living, were hosted soldiers and, in a better fitted apartment, a more valuable character: the captain of the guards, as well as storage of food, and other provisions. The Tower has a picturesque view of Siena in the far distance. Now beautifully restored, the old features are retained, as two old fireplaces, typical seats at the side of the windows, storage niches around the walls, the warm hand made terracotta floors, the delicately colour washed walls, and the ceilings with massive chestnut beams. All the furniture is antique. The four floors of the tower can be rented as a whole, a large independent house with five double bedrooms, and four bathrooms(with the ground floor serving with its equipments as kitchen/dining-room for a large group), but each floor is totally independent with its own kitchen and bathroom, with access to the main staircase, shared in common. The ground floor it’s ideal for people who love cooking. Under a porch in front of the Tower, surrounded by a small garden, there is a space to dine altogether outside. Our suggestion to honeymooners it’s Torre 3, the guards captain apartment. Tower 4 has a double dimension, placed on two floors, and has a large upper bedroom under the Tower’s roof, in a windowed room. A very special bedroom for very special guests.

The Capanna house it’s an stand-alone house, in a converted barn, dated 1847, separated from the other houses of the castle, formerly a ruined tower along an outer bastion’s wall of the advanced fortifications. This nice, intimate, house, surrounded by a beautiful garden, through its large windows has an astonishing view across the plain below Stigliano, with a large view of Siena and the mountains behind. A windowed archway leads to a sitting room with a large fireplace and divan bed. The separate kitchen/ dining room has a door that opens directly onto a covered, furnished patio, permitting to dine otside. A grapes pergola provides shadow to the house. A paved terrace with views over the castle in Tuscany permits to take sunbaths. The first floor has a shower room, double bedroom and small double bedroom.

The Loggia house is in front of the tower, divided by a grassy courtyard and reached by external marble and brick steps. Sitting/dining-room with large tuscan fireplace, breakfast kitchen with a furnished loggia looking at the ancient buildings, ideal to stay outside. Double bedroom and shower room downstairs. An open wooden staircase leads to a large mansard double bedroom/ studio with a sofa-bed, particularly lovely beamed ceiling and extensive views. Between the house and the tower, a few steps in the ancient walls lead to wide, long garden, furnished for sunbathing and shared with guests at the tower.

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