This fortress was first planned in the 16th century as the final defense of the Duchy of Ferrara along its border with Lucca. Built between 1579 and 1586 under the supervision of Marc’Antonio Pasi, today the fortress is considered one of the most important examples of military architecture in the Garfagnana.
It served as a military camp for the Estense family through the 16th and 17th centuries and, during the Napoleonic years (1805-14), passed into the patrimony of the State Property Office of the Principate of Lucca and Piombino. When it returned to Estense ownership in 1814 it took on a central role in the daily life of the Castelnuovo community.
The fortress later passed into the property of the Scottish Bechelli family who used it as their summer home and who renovated a part of the building (which in 1776 has served as the State Prison) into an Art Nouveau villetta. The fortress began to deteriorate in the first half of the 20th century, a process which was speeded by an unexpected and devastating earthquake in 1920, and later by shelling during World War II.
In 1980 the Province of Lucca bought the fortress from the Bechelli heirs the site was in terrible condition, and the Province launched a major campaign to restore the outer walls.
Today Mont’Alfonso has reclaimed its central role in the life of its citizens and the structure continues to undergo restorations which will eventually bring the majority of the building back into use.
Since 2002 the Fortress has also been an excavation site under the supervision of the Department of Archeological Science at the University of Pisa.
Excavations continued in 2004, revealing additional information about the underground structure of the building. The fortress is an exceptional example of medieval and post-medieval wall systems and provides an opportunity to study the development of engineering technologies in the Garfagnana area. To date information has been gathered on three distinct sectors of the Fortress: the foundry, the ancient Church of San Pantaleone and the area between the Soccorso Bulwark and the Belvedere Bulwark. The foundry excavations have proven particularly interesting, revealing important, and rare, information regarding the development of cannon technology.
Castelnuovo di Garfagnana
In the heart of Garfagnana, rich in natural and historical beauty
Castelnuovo is the main centre of Garfagnana, positioned at the merging of the river Serchio with the Turrite Secca, a typical mountain torrent coming down from the Apuans. The town is the commercial and administrative centre of the valley, seat of the 'Comunità Montana' which unites 16 communes, and many other public offices. ...Morekeyboard_backspace