We visited four nearby “castles,” this week. The word is in parenthesis because of the 4, only two have the looks of a castle; the others are remnants of a onetime defense against marauding forces. The two that remain are in private hands. One is a home and the other, Galbino, is a super-luxury villa with 21 beds, four towers, swimming pool, beautiful grounds and gardens. The woman we met at this villa said that a “group of Americans were there for two weeks and were now gone.” The owners, four brothers, she said, were arriving with their families because there were no other guests until August.
Original Wall of the castle in Toppole
The Alcove of the church in Toppole
The inside of the same Alcove in Toppole
The four castles visited were: Toppele, Pianettole, Verazzano, (all 11th Century structures) and Galbino, which is a 16th century building. By the way, if anyone is interested in renting the castle it rents for 4800 to 8800 Euro per week, depending on the season – if you can get 9 adaptable and agreeable couples, it would be a steal at less than 1000 euros per week.
The other two castles, only parts of walls remain. The most notable one was the Verazzano castle, which is named for Giovanni Verazzano, an Italian explorer whose name is also attached to the Verazzano Narrows Bridge in NY. The drive to these two castles was along steep, narrow dirt and stone roads, which caused some panic in the back seat as the car struggled to get to the top of one of the hills.
Galbino Castle - The tower is the stairwell
Galbino - a luxury villa
At the Toppole castle, there’s a small community of 10 houses some of which were created using the original 11th Century wall of the old castle. A local resident came out to greet us. His name was Angelo. Angelo and his wife, Vera, live in Anghiari, but use their home in Toppole for weekends. Angelo gave us the tour of the area and also of the church, which was reconstructed by the local diocese. Part of the wall, an curved alcove, was perhaps an original, albeit re-constructed in recent years. The paths were steep; we parked the car at the top, but before doing so, my wife got out, not wanting to roll back into an abyss. Angelo commented that the little town was like a miniature United Nations; there was a Brit, Dutch, Romanian and German all of whom own a small bungalow. There was plenty of wood piled along the road for those chilly evenings and/or mornings.
Small Church in Verazzano
Another view of the Church with one of its flock
The main road leading into Verazzano
I'm sure there are numerous anecdotes about these castles, the lives of those who lived in them and how they interacted with the rest of the inhabitants, but without further research, the local literature has limited information.