castell'azzara

Perched high on the rock cliff, virtually cut off from anyone else, the locals of Castell'Azzara are part of an extremely tight knit community, but you'd be hard pressed to find a more accommodating or hospitable bunch anywhere else in the Maremma.

Here life is simple. Still not used to the tourists that visit their beautiful town, Castell'Azzara's residents continue to go about their day much like their parents and grandparents did.

Morning stops at the nearby bar to catch up on town gossip are a must. Then, if the weather's nice, there's always time for a walk through the mountain forests, keeping to the many well-marked walking tracks that zig-zag around Castell'Azzara and all over the surrounding mountain region.

Finally for lunch, a visit to the town's beloved Ristorante La Tana del Orso - where the resident chef and owner may change his menu daily ( it depends a lot on his mood!), but he never sways from homemade local favourites. The fare here is cheap and always delicious.

But Castell'Azzara is much more than a poster child for the Maremma of old. It too is surrounded by incredible beauty, both naturally sourced and man-made.

Driving up the winding roads to reach the town is experience enough. A mass of rickety rooftops surging upwards at different heights, Castell'Azzara is part of the cliff it sits on and the town's fragile-looking brown walls suggest it has seen its fair share of centuries.

And so it has. Castell'Azzara's existence was first recorded in 1216 as part of the Aldobrandeschi family's vast bounty.

Local legends tell a story of three Aldobrandeschi brothers, Ildebrandino, Bonifacio and Guglielmo, who each wanted the glorious job of commissioning an impressive castle for this beautiful town. Unable to come to an agreement, the three played a game and the winner not only built his castle, but embellished it with three towers - one for each brother. Today, Castell'Azzara honours this legend with their coat of arms - a castle with three towers, each with a sharp white die on top.

Photo: Stefano F via Flickr.

Sights

La Rocca

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According to legend, this is the castle the winning Aldobrandeschi brother commissioned in the 13th century

Chiesa della Maestà

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Also known as the Chiesa della Madonna del Rosario this church was built in the first half of the 16th century.

Palazzi Communali 

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Both in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, they were both finished in the 19th century and were various official residences and offices.

Villa Sforzesca
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On the road to Pitigliano, Villa Sforzesca is alone in what is otherwise a never-ending stretch of green fields.

Activities

Le Arcane Vie dell’Etruria

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These ancient Etruscan roads are the archaeological treasures that separate Castell’Azzara from the rest of the Maremma

Sentieri

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For lovers of Mother Earth’s great bounty, Castell’Azzara has four walking/hiking tracks that wind through the mountain ranges and forests just outside the town’s borders

Events

Festa del Tartufo d’Estate

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July
Truffles are so precious, not only to the locals of Castell’Azzara but to all Maremmani, that you could call them fungus gold.

Photos from left to right: Stefano F and Bruno Tardioli via Flickr.

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