The Rocca di Vernio, or Fortress of Vernio, is 350 meters above Prato and is easily reachable via a road that leads to the fortress from the Sasseta area. However, for those with an eye for history, the original access to the fortress, via a small medieval street that departs from San Quirico, near the Casone, and continues up towards Poggio di Mezzana, is still accessible.
The fortress belonged to the Feud of Vernio first under the Alberti Counts and later under the Bardi, well-known Florentine merchants. The castle was originally a vast, well-structured building with strong defenses, but these last were destroyed in a series of battles that afflicted Vernio in the 14th and 15th centuries. The ruins are still visible and offer an ideal lookout to assess the enormity of the original complex. The medieval settlement which provided homes for the local serfs has been well conserved, as has the Chapel of Saint Agatha.
In the 1600s the Bardi transferred their seat of power to the more comfortable and elegant Casone, or large house, in Piazza di San Quirico. The Fortress is private and has recently undergone significant restoration. Arrangements must be made with the owners for visits.
Source: Prato APT