Giglio Castello

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The inland hilltop village, or "borgio", of Giglio Castello is situated 405 meters above the sea. It is characterized by majestic walls with three arched gateways and seven rectangular towers, which were erected by the Pisani (from Pisa) in the twelfth century. Enlarged and restored several times by the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, Giglio Castello has maintained its original shape. Its main entrance is an extremely complex structure with numerous arrow loops used by skilled archers to defend the city.

On the face of the inner wall of the last of the three gateways there is a marble slab bearing the insignia of the Medici family, who reinforced Giglio Castello after the destruction caused by the Saracens. The magnificent walls from the Medici family were built from those destroyed in the eleventh century. In the heart of the village, at the square in front of the church, it is still possible to admire the ancient cistern built in 1700 by the Medici, designed to solve the city's water-supply problems.

The village's narrow streets are intersected frequently with arches and external stairways used to access the upper floors of houses. Piazza XVIII Novembre is located at the historically important Rocca Aldobrandesca, a massive defense structure that makes Giglio Island a fascinating place to visit. Giglio Castello is considered to be and has won awards for being one of the 100 most beautiful medieval villages in Italy.

The church of San Pietro Apostolo dates from at least the fifteenth century, and it was restored in the 1700s in the typical late-Baroque style. Within its quiet sanctuary, there is an impressive ollection of relics and works of fine art: two Corinthian pedestals from the second century B.C. that support basins of holy water, two busts depicting San Mamiliano and San Pietro from the 1700s, the fifteenth-century altar of polychrome marble, relics of Pope Urban I and Pope Urban VIII, ecclesiastical furnishings of Pope Innocenzo XIII (whose secretary was a native of Giglio), three paintings by Nasini, the sixteenth-century ivory crucifix attributed to Giambologna, the revered forearm-bone relic of Castello's patron saint, San Mamiliano, dating back to 1724, and two sabers and one gun with elegant inlay work abandoned by the pirates during the last attack in 1799.

Today, the historic structures may be visited together with the local shops and quaint restaurants, and it is possible visit Giglio's local wine cellars, home to the amber-colored, 15%-grade Ansonaco: Giglio's own special wine.