About three kilometres from the city of San Romano, in the heart of the Garfagnana, rises the fortress of Verrucole. This is an important Medieval site, 600m above sea level, above the town of Verrucole.
The fortress was constructed at the request of the Gherardinghi family, around the 11th and 12th centuries, in order to increase their dominion over their own area and to challenge the Bacciano family in their battle to possess San Romano.This powerful family lived here until 1285 when the building was acquired by the Republic of Lucca.
The castle is formed by two distinct structures, the Rocca Quadra, or Square Fortress, and the Rocca Tonda, or Round Fortress which are located on either side of the hill and surrounded by walls. The Rocca Quadra was the first to be built and is simpler than its counterpart, which also served as a residence and occasional garrison.
The fortress is cited as Il Castrum Verrucolae Gherardinghi in an Imperial bolla of 1376 and was then ceded to Spinetta Malaspina, an exponent of another of the feudal aristocracies which were rampant along the Tuscan-Emilian-Ligurian borders. After the Guelph and Ghibelline conflicts the fortress was taken by the Florentines in 1430 and then by Lucca four years later, before being taken by the Estensi who included San Romano and its territories under their authority from 1446 onwards.
As Garfagnana became more peaceful, the fortress was adapted as a jail.
Once you've arrived at San Romano in Garfagnana head towards the suburb of Verrucole and leave your car there, continuing on foot along the path which leads up into the hill. The fortress is open year-round and there is no fee to appreciate the remarkable panorama which looks out over the Garfagnana and the Apuane Alps.