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Coreglia Antelminelli, Italy

La Rocca

An 11th-century mountaintop fortress that played a crucial role in Italy's papal wars is now a vacation rental. 

A medieval castle fortress in Coreglia Antelminelli, known in Italian as “Rocca,” is now a unique vacation home sprawled atop a buttress along the steep valleys of the rivers Ania and Segone in the Apennines mountains.

The fortification, which most likely dates back to the 11th century, was used by different factions as they fought over supporting the papal or the imperial powers. From the Rocca’s strategic position, a vast portion of the surrounding valleys can be observed. It played an important military role during the battles staged by the city of Lucca against the municipalities of the Serchio Valley.

In 1316 the castle was a stronghold of the Guelphs (supporters of the Pope) against the Ghibellines (supporters of the Holy Roman Empire), who were led locally by Castruccio Castracani. After a long siege, Castracani eventually conquered the castle and reinforced its structure and garrisoned it. In the first half of the 14th century, Francesco Castracani, who often raided Barga, the town across the valley, used the Rocca as a place to organize his troops.

Francesco Castracani briefly lost the castle after after the general council decided to punish him for his excessive ambition. Though he did ultimately regain control, the fortress passed back and forth between the hands of the Florentines and residents of Lucca after his death.

As the centuries went on, the complex eventually lost its military role entirely and became a solely residential property. At present it is a residence available for vacation rentals, beautifully situated on the castle grounds amid orchards and a vineyard, as well as a small swimming pool, a very modern addition.

Know Before You Go

The accommodation here has space for six and in July 2017 the rental for the whole castle was was about $200 per night (three night minimum).You can easily see the outside of the northern walls and buttresses and on the southern side the two steps of the fortification which are now much modified. Both can now be seen from the public road and there is little to prevent you walking up the driveway to the main gate. Good exterior views can also be had from the camping site opposite the driveway. The only way to see the interior of both the castle and the residential villa is probably to rent the place but it may be possible to talk to the owner about viewing it. While looking for it online the place it is often listed as being in Barga, the nearby town.

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