Located in a strategic position to watch over the namesake pass, the village of Serravalle Pistoiese still conserves its medieval appearance and is dominated from above by the ruins of two fortresses, the western one and the older eastern one. First ruled by Pistoia, and later Lucca, the town ultimately fell into the hands of Florence in 1351. The castle itself dates to 1148, but its appearance today is primarily from the 14th century.
The fortress, known as “Rocca Nuova” to distinguish it from the older fortifications in Serravalle, was built by Lucca after the castle was conquered by Morello Malaspina in 1302 and was finished by Uguccione della Faggiola and Castruccio Castracani.
The castle, roughly triangular in shape, sits on the western side of the town, defining its skyline with its two square bastions (one of which is accessible today, although we recommend being careful when visiting) and the beautiful hexagonal tower made from square ashlar bricks, restored in the 1990s. On the opposite side of town is the massive Torre del Barbarossa, made from chalky stone and lacking a pediment. The tower was once part of a 12th-century fortress built by Pistoia in 1177 to watch over the surrounding valley. Centuries ago, the two fortresses were connected via a walkway atop the defense walls, and the ruins of the wall and the eastern castle were still visible at the end of the 1700s.
Only a small stretch of Serravalle’s defense walls remain today, including the gate known as "Porta della Gabella,” through which you can get to the hamlet of Gabella Vecchia, an hold customs area located at the foot of the castle.