A centre in the Casentino area in the province of Arezzo, with about 3,000 inhabitants, Pratovecchio represents one of the historical nucleuses of the Guidi Counts’ power, feudatories of the Empire that dominated the Casentino until the XV century. The village’s origins date back to the Early Middle Ages but the first, definite mention of it is from 1191. It was mentioned in an Imperial certificate of Henry IV, in which he confirms it is a fief of the Guidi.
Such a document has always been considered of great historical importance because it lists the holdings over which the Guidi Counts dominated for many centuries. Among these is also Pratovecchio that was probably already a hundred years old, having developed around an ancient monastery from the 10th century. Until the XIV century many different branches of the Guidi family dominated the area. One of these, the Dovadola, was responsible for the building of walls and moats around the medieval village. In 1367 the castle was purchased by the Guidi family from Poppi, right in the middle of their battles against the super-power of the Florentine Guelphs. On the day of reckoning, signed in the Poppi castle in 1440, Pratovecchio is subjugated along with the whole of the Casentino area to the Florentine Republic, which a couple of decades later would become the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, with jurisdiction over a large part of today’s region. The town of Pratovecchio was also the birthplace, in 1397, of the Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello.
Florence, also taking possession of the woodland belonging to the Guidi family, transformed Pratovecchio into a wood-sorting centre on the way to the capital town. The area took on such importance that the Lorena family, successors of the Medici family at the head of the Grand Duchy, destroyed the forests that surrounded their own personal heritage. The transportation of wood was carried out via road to the Arno River, from which it headed to Pisa and Florence. Subsequently, the town also developed an important resource in the textile sector.