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The Castelvecchio Nature Reserve

In the most hidden part of the Alta Valdelsa, almost at the southern limit of the municipal area of ​​San Gimignano, are the remains of what was once an important medieval civil and military settlement, once known as Castrum Vetus, today Castelvecchio.

Castelvecchio assumed importance and notoriety after the year 1000, having been transformed into a "Castrum" and fortified citadel in a strategic position a short distance from the intersection of the international Via Francigena.

In 1213, San Gimignano, which has expansionist ambitions, comes into conflict with Volterra and relocates to Castelvecchio, located on the border between the territories of the two cities, a strong military contingent to conduct war operations, which lasted for about a hundred years, also if interspersed with periods of respite.

With the fourteenth century begins the decline of Castelvecchio, accentuated in the following century, when, without a military contingent, it is unable to defend itself, first from the attacks of the Milanese army, then of the Neapolitan one, enemies of Florence. To the disadvantages of the war is added the critical economic situation and, therefore, a plague epidemic that exploded in August 1478. The inhabitants of Castelvecchio ask for valid support in San Gimignano which is unable to give it and, despite this, they succeed to overcome the difficult moment, until 1485 when the plague reappears, more violent than usual.

San Gimignano, once again, does not provide help; on the contrary, with a provision of October 1485, Castelvecchio declares one of the epicenters of the spread of the plague, to be isolated in the interest of the community, without the possibility of entering or leaving the settlement. In the sixteenth century Castelvecchio was inhabited seasonally and for short periods by woodcutters, charcoal burners and shepherds.

In 1576 the ecclesiastical authorities ascertain that the church of Castelvecchio, already canonical, is in an advanced state of decay and that the surrounding area is "very wild". The settlement was completely abandoned and even forgotten, so much so that it was called, in a derogatory sense, "Le Torracce" for the skeletons of two towers that sprout above the vegetation of the wood that has taken over.

In 1979 a group of citizens of San Gimignano decided to bring Castelvecchio back to light and they were joined by many volunteers from many parts of Italy, from Piedmont to Sicily, including not a few foreigners.

With a provision of 21 March 1996 the Tuscany Region establishes the "Castelvecchio Nature Reserve"

29
Jul
2020
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