Thanks to its strategic position,the village of Castiglione Garfagnana, 540 metres up, watched over area below, a transitory route on the way to San Pellegrino, Passo delle Radici and the province of Modena. For this reason, the town has been fortified since Antiquity: the first to come here were the Romans, who built theCastrum Leonis atop a rocky spur in the highest part of the village, which was later enlarged by the Lombards.
The castle has had a troubled life: in 1170, it was besieged by the Republic of Lucca, who were able to conquer and destroy it in part; 15 years later it was rebuilt by its lords, but when the town’s inhabitants once again took up arms against Lucca, the latter returned and razed it to the ground.
In 1230, locals rebuilt the stronghold for the umpteenth time, but in 1277, it was once again at the centre of the continuous wars that were being waged in the Garfagnana. It was besieged by Lucca and destroyed for a third time.
In June 1370, the children of Castruccio Castracane occupied the castle for a short period, and Lucca came to definitively rule over Castiglione, strengthening its fortifications and building five large towers, known as Brunella, San Michele, Fattori, San Pietro, and a final one that was transformed into a clock tower. San Pietro stands close to the castle, which is equipped with connecting tunnels to the outside.
In 1610, Castiglione defended an attack by Modena and resisted a siege by them in 1613, after which the town experienced a long period of peace.
The current structure dates to the 14th century, when its defense walls were enlarged, reaching 740 metres in length and between 11 and 17 metres in height.