This past week we made a trip to an area of Italy known as the Casentino. It’s a beautiful hilly region with little towns tucked away in the valleys with castles atop some of the hills. We visited three different castles: Castello di Romera, Castello di Porciano, and Castello di Poppi. Our group also had the chance to stay in Castello di Porciano for two nights and visit a 1,000 year old mill that supplied Porciano with flour during the time it was in use.
Our first castle was Castello di Romera. It is said that Dante used the castle’s prison tower as inspiration for his seven layers of hell in The Inferno. The castle’s main tower, courtyard, and main prison tower still stand, though the walls and other sections of the castle have fallen.
The second Castle we visited was Castello di Porciano. This is also the castle where we stayed! the first three floors consisted of two museum levels and a mock up of what the great dining hall might have looked like when Dante was there. The scenery around the castle was also beautiful. There were hills around that were perfect for hiking and a huge iris garden as well. My favorite part about Porciano was getting to visit the old mill. This mill is 1,000 years old and has been in the same family for 700 years. I can’t even wrap my head around how long that is. We were able to eat dinner at the mill and see how flour was produced long ago. The bread we had was baked in a 1000 year old oven and was some of the best bread I have ever had.
The last castle we visited was Castello di Poppi. This castle was my favorite because most of the castle was still intact. The paintings on the walls were still there which gave a better picture of what the castle might have looked like. The castle, which is now a community center, also had original copies of Dante’s Divine Comedy signed by Dante in a library that had hundreds of century old books. Overall, the trip to Casentino has been one of my favorites so far. Italy continues to impress with its beauty and history every day.