roccalbegna-cassero-alienauticThe Cassero Senese was probably built in the 13th century by the Aldobrandeschi, the extremely powerful noble family that ruled much of the Maremma and beyond. Today a somewhat dilapidated fort, it sits guarding one of the cliffs that overlook Roccalbegna and has definitely seen better times. At the beginning of the 15th century, the Cassero was deemed no longer important by the then ruling Sienese and was abandoned.

Rather than let it go to waste, it was restored for residential use by Domenico d'Andrea and Gerard Mariano in 1446 and was privately owned. The fort remained part of the Grand Duke's estate until the 19th century when it was entrusted to the town's vicar. Today the Cassero is a striking pink-stone building that resembles more of a villa than a fortress. Inside, a small courtyard opens into a beautiful garden of lush green lawns and tall Mediterranean trees. During the 17th century, this garden doubled as a casino for the area's rich and influential. Little remains of this original garden or the casino, but the area is still beautiful and definitely worth a visit if you've got an hour to kill.

Photo: Alienautic via Wikipedia Commons.

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