Castle of Sommocolonia

The town of Sommocolonia is located along a ridge of Monte della Tesa, between the valley of the Fosso di Rivellese and that of the Corsonna river. From the summit it was possible to guard a large segment of the Serchio Valley, including the fortifications of the Barga territory and the slopes on the right bank of the Serchio. 

The fortress stood in a dominating position in the village and consisted of an elliptical shaped wall, crowned with battlements of Ghibelline craftmanship and two square towers  with at least four floors. The village, positioned at the foot of the church and its bell tower, was also surrounded by high crenellated walls, with two entrance gates. Originally at least four turrets were positioned between the two walls.

Today only ruins remain of the original fortification, which was badly damaged in the earthquake of 1920 and bombings during World War II. In particular the remains include the north-western wall - of considerable thickness and preserved to a height of about two and a half metres - and a stump of the southern tower.

What remains of the tower also provides indications for reconstructing the shape of its twin tower, which disappeared in an undefined period;  two floors on two sides are still in good condition while the rest hs been destroyed. The building had a square base of approximately 8 metres each side and an imposing wall of about one and a half metres thick, which is not surprising given the height the building. 

Athough extensively rebuilt in recent times,the surrounding wall still retains some of the original parts, from which one can sense that the structure followed the evolution of the high ground without being interrupted by towers of any kind.  Today, however, very little remains of the outermost circuit placed to defend the village, apart from disconnected fragments of masonry and the remains of one of the gates.

Historical notes

The village of Sommocolonia is mentioned for the first time in the year 983 in the list of localities that depended on the parish of Loppia. In all probability, the castle existed before 1170, when the armies of Lucca occupied and destroyed it. The fort, which was subsequently rebuilt, passed from the Rolandinghi to their descendants, the Berrettani.

In 1294 the City of Lucca ordered that all of the defences of the castle be demolished within ten days, that the Berrettani and their spouses promise that the towers, walls and fortress would not be rebuilt and that the families who were living inside come out with all of their possessions. Fortunately the ordinance was not completed and in 1342 the fort, along with other towns of the Barga, surrendered voluntarily to the Florentine state. The end of Sommocolonia's military history began in 1532, when the Guelph Captains of Florence declassified the fortress. The military structure and the relevant properties were entrusted to Simone di Bologna Salvi, who had been appointed warden the year before. In 1586, the castle and all of its related properties were sold to a certain Antonio di Mario Bologna Salvi of Sommocolonia, putting an end to the military history of the construction.


Castle of Sommocolonia, building remains detail
Castle of Sommocolonia, castle ruins
Castle of Sommocolonia, church facade
Castle of Sommocolonia, remains of the building, detail