Castiglione della Pescaia
|Castiglione della Pescaia|
|Inhabitants||7.206 [31 Dec, 2019]|
|Patron Saint||San Guglielmo di Malavalle (2 May)|
|Website||Castiglione della Pescaia|
Panorama of Castiglione della Pescaia
Castiglione della Pescaia is an Italian town of 7206 inhabitants (as of 31 December 2019) on the Maremma Coast, Tuscany in the province of Grosseto. The town is overlooked by a medieval castle (12th-14th century) and is now a popular seaside resort on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The municipality covers about 209 km². It is located about 20 km west of the provincial capital Grosseto and about 125 km south of the regional capital Florence.
The hamlets(frazioni) include Ampio. 60 inhabitants), Buriano (184 m, c. 260 inhabitants), Macchiascandona ( also called Le Palazzine, 32 m, c. 20 inhabitants), Pian d’Alma ( also part of Scarlino, 17 m, approx. 30 inhabitants), Pian di Rocca (13 m, approx. 70 inhabitants), Ponti di Badia (18 m, about 20 inhabitants), Punta Ala (38 m, about 320 inhabitants), Riva del Sole (5 m) , Roccamare and Rocchette (6 m, together about 110 inhabitants), Tirli (404 m, about 290 inhabitants) and Vetulonia (335 m, about 270 inhabitants). The main town itself has about 4,200 inhabitants.
The neighbouring municipalities are Gavorrano, Grosseto and Scarlino.
At the time of the Etruscans (9th-4th century BC), the area southeast of the mouth of the Bruna River, where today’s Castiglione is located, was covered by a large salt lake. Roman sources (Catullus and Cicero) mention it as Lacus Prelius. A small port is documented under the name of Salebro, or in the extension by a settlement Mansio Salebro, whose exact location is no longer traceable and which was lost after the fall of the Roman Empire.
In the 9th century, a document of Louis the Pious mentions a Castellione della Piscaria, and William of Malavalle – still the patron saint of the place today – is said to have retired as a hermit in this inhospitable area(malavalle).
The oldest evidence of the past still visible today is the fortress built by the maritime Republic of Pisa; the Pisans dominated the port from the 10th to the early 15th century. With the conquest of Pisa by Florence in 1406, Castiglione shares its further history with the Medici Republic and in this respect with the Grand Duchy of Tuscany from 1569, with Habsburg-Lorraine from 1737 and with the Italian State from 1860.
In the 19th century, Leopold II initiated extensive programs to develop a canal system through the salt lake, similar to the one that must have existed in ancient times, and to drain the marshes bordering it to the south. Over the next century, however, the work repeatedly stagnated, and nature reclaimed the land. Under Benito Mussolini, forced labor programs involving prisoners and World War I veterans who had been left landless occurred. It was to take until the middle of the 20th century before the former swampland was finally cultivated and malaria was eradicated.
For the Pisans, the port had only strategic importance; settlers avoided the marshes. The Medici tried to attract families from the north to grow sugar cane. It was not until the 19th century, when the climate improved, that the first fishermen settled here; fishing is still a source of income for the town, alongside which tourism only came at the end of the 20th century. Hotels, apartment complexes, campsites, cafés and restaurants reach their capacity limits in July/August, but outside these peak periods a moderate occupancy rate allows sufficient mobility. Outside the bathing season (October to April), many facilities are closed.
Places of interest
- The Pisan Rocca dates back to a first tower built in the 12th century, high on the hill overlooking the port of Castiglione, which in the following centuries was incorporated into a ring of walls with two other corner towers; this enclosure encloses the upper town in a triangular shape. The original tower has been heavily modified; it is now privately owned and not open to the public. Other fortifications were added by the Florentines in the 15th century.
- Staircases, some with flying arches, run through the old town within the ring of walls and include the church and Palazzo Comunale.
- From the panoramic terrace below the inhabited tower, there is a wide view of the town and to the south, as far as Isola del Giglio and Monte Argentario.
- Parish Church of San Giovanni Battista, Pieve already mentioned in 1051.
- Palazzo Pretorio (medieval, renovated in the 18th century).
- Palazzo Camaiori (built in the 15th century).
- Palazzo Centurioni (medieval, renovated in the 20th century).
- Palazzo dello Spedale (built at the end of the 16th century, then always restored).
- Church of Santa Maria Assunta in the fraction of Buriano with fresco La natività by the painter Giuseppe Nicola Nasini.
- Church of Sant’Andrea Apostolo in the Tirli fraction, with stuccoes by Andrea Ferrari of Lugano, preserves the relics of Saint Guglielmo di Malavalle.
- The extensive pine forests along the fine sandy beaches about 7 km north of the village up to the holiday settlement Le Rocchette as well as along the bay bordering to the southeast were planted in Habsburg times as part of the cultivation programme(la bonifica).
- Between the rivers Bruna and Ombrone, a marshy area of about 1000 hectares (the Padule di Castiglione) has been left to nature. It is still the largest of its kind in Italy and is a bird sanctuary bordering the Parco Naturale della Maremma, which is only accessible under certain conditions.
- Carlo Carli: Il Libro del Padule. Edited by the Amministrazione Comunale Castiglione della Pescaia.
- Emanuele Repetti: CASTIGLION DELLA PESCAJA. In: Dizionario Geografico Fisico Storico della Toscana (1833-1846), online edition of the University of Siena (pdf, Italian)
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