Lajatico | The Fortress of Pietracassia

The Fortress of Pietracassia represents a formidable example of early medieval architecture, among the first Lombard fortifications built in Tuscany (1028).

The “broken” stone

La Rocca di Pietracassia | Lajatico | Terre di Pisa

The name of Pietracassia, “broken stone” derives from the crack in the rock. Its position reveals its strategic role: at more than 530 meters high, it allows to keep an eye on the whole Valdera and most of the Val di Cecina up to Volterra. It was impregnable: a cliff protected it from attacks to the north, while a thick wall defended it from attackers.

The structure of the fortress is made of large ashlars of limestone and Alberese stone, worked and found in the quarries of the area. It has a massive square shape with the main facade facing south, which is accessed through a fine Gothic arch. All around, there are still evident traces of the two curtain walls of the 12th century. At the two sides, connected by mighty walls, the remains of two square towers, the west one and the other of heptagonal shape, exclusive case in Tuscany.

Of today’s structure we can distinguish the fortress itself and the castle, built in two different moments. Initially in the hands of the bishop of Volterra, passed to the Pisans then to the Florentines, and then ceased its defensive function. Although today the fortress is almost destroyed, what little remains testifies to the grandeur  that it had to have at the height of its splendor.

How to get there

From Lajatico, follow the signposts. After leaving the main road, walk on the dirt road for about half an hour, following a path shaded by oaks.

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