Castiglione della Pescaia Travel Guide

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view from sasso d'ombrone

view from sasso d'ombrone

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A few hundred houses with a few thousand inhabitants, a romantic corner of the old Maremma between the azure sea and the evergreen hills, with rocks going down to the sea and beaches bordered by thick brush and extensive pine woods, a Fishing harbour dominated by an embattled, medieval castle: this is Castigtione della Pescaia. In addition to its delightful beach, its sea and pine woods, Castiglione della Pescaia can also offer the fascination of the imposing remains of its important past. The first group of houses probably stood on the eminence facing the outlet of Lake Prile (Prilis Lacus) at the time when the Etruscans were building Vetulonia, that is in the IX century B.C. On the banks of the lake, near the outlet, the Romans built Fisheries, salt basins and a village called Salebrone, which became a posting station on the Via Aurelia. It is preciselv fronm those fisheries, traces of which may still be seen today in the Paduline region, that Castiglione della Pescaia took its present name. Another testimony of the presence of the descendants of Romulus may be seen in the ruins of the Badia al Fango (abbey in the mud) standing on the Clodia island, in the middle of the lake.
In the year 962, desiring to grant further privileges, Otto I, Emperor of Germany ceded Castiglione della Pescaia to Pisa. The Pisans surrounded Castiglione with a ring of walls with eleven towers and three gates, as well as a triangular castle. Today, all this forms the upper part of the village. At the beginning of 1100, Saint William, IXth Duke of Aquitaine, came to the Empia valley or Malavalle of Castiglione. He had chosen this place, which was then unhealthy and little known, in order to serve God in rugged penitence and solitude. He died there on the 10th February 1157 to the sorrow of the whole Maremma, where today he is venerated as patron. In 1404, the inhabitants of Castiglione who, after the decline of the power of Pisa, no longer had protectors, decided in council to submit to Florence. Later, Castiglione passed into the hands of the Aragonesi (1447-1460) and they granted the village to Antonio Piccolomini for 50 thousand gold florins. Exhausted by the war with Siena, the Piccolominis ceded our village to Eleonor of Toledo, wife of Cosimo I de' Medici, on 20th January 1559. Thus, after 110 years, the Medicis came back, no longer as protectors but as masters. Castiglione remained under Florence till April 1859, when the revolution drove out Leopold II, which led to his abdication and lastly to Tuscany being annexed by the Kingdom of Italy. In 1833, our village was declared an indipendent municipality. But the archeological remains and traces of its long history are certainly not the most interesting attraction of Castiglione della Pescaia. Now-a-days, its name is well known both nationally and internationally in the tourist trade During the spring and summer, this tourism multiplies the population by ten; this benevolent and rather sly Maremma village turns into a cosmopolitan centre where, at any hour of the day or night, one can meet and chat with someone from Finland, Switzerland, America or Sweden. In our village, this picturesque corner of the old Maremma, every season has its charm, there is a warm feeling of hospitality and everyone can choose the kind of life he likes in company or in relaxed and dreamy solitude.
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