An hour from Arezzo, after a beautiful drive through picturesque countryside, we arrived at the wonderful little town of Poppi. If you love castles and staircases this is the place to visit! A walk through this castle gives you a real feel for the medieval italian life. A small entrance fee for the castle also provides you with free audio guide.
The castle was built by Count Guidi, a family which dates back until the X century in the Tuscan area. Until 1440 the castle was in their possession, then, due to a betrayal by Count Francesco who had aligned with the Duke of Milan agains Florence, the castle passed into the hands of the Republica Fiorentina.
Historians attribute the construction, or possibly the reconstruction, of the castle to Conte di Bottifolle on 1274. It appears that the right part of the castle was constructed first. The left part was built 10 to 15 years later and it is thought to be the work of Arnolfo di Cambio, who is credited with the original design of Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. Between the two parts there are noticeable differences in the style.
The castle is surrounded by a “Guelf Merilon” style wall and a deep, wide moat. Outside the wall before the drawbridge there is a munizione, which is the little square building, now used as the main entrace. At one time it served as the first defence.
The large tower dominates the entire building. The bells, still located in the tower, date from 1423 and 1722.
Once inside the courtyard, there is a stone staircase by Turriani, whose supports are lodged in the wall, a beautiful balcony still covered in part bt it’s original decorated wooden ceiling and a statue of Guidi di Battifolle at the stairhead, who is now said to haunt the castle. Especially interesting is the column across the statue which supports the entire roof. Thia column doesn’t stand straight and is suported by a unique series of overlapping stone shelves. Also notable are the crests and coat of arms lining the inner courtyard walls representing the families of the Vicari.
The castle is also awarded national and international acclaim because of the librabry which contains hundreds medieval texts and manuscripts.
On the second floor of particular interest are the frescoed walls, the decorated ceiling, a stone wash brain. Continuing upward to the thirdfloor a large stone fireplace displaying thr crest of the Guidi family, and a chapel.