Stia in Casentino – Castle of Porciano

Two important Casentino castles overlook the town: the il Castello di Romena and the Castello di Porciano. The latter is part of the town of the same name on the slopes of the mountain that rises steeply behind Stia and separates the Casentino area from the Mugello. The castle dates back to the 11th century and was built by the Guidi family of counts. In 1350 it passed first under the protection and then a century later under the ownership of the Republic of Florence. As of the mid 16th century, the castle gradually fell into decay.

Today, after a long restoration process begun in the sixties and Seventies by Flaminia Goretti de Flamini and her husband George Specht, the parents of the present owner, the Castle of Porciano can show us part of its original splendour. The castle tower is the highest in the Casentino area, overlooking the Arno river from Stia to Bibbiena.  There is an interesting museum inside (for information and tours call 329.0209258).

A few kilometres from Porciano, moving toward Londa – Mugello, you will find the Santuario di Santa Maria delle Grazie, built in the 14th century to commemorate the appearance of the Virgin to Monna Giovanna, a local farmer’s wife. The Church holds a fresco and a painting on wood dating back to the 15th century and several Della Robbia majolicas (see Della Robbia in Casentino).

Once back in Stia, we are reminded first of all that this town was built in the 11th century.

As far back as the Middle Ages, Stia was known for its wool and the cloth woven from it. This production was industrialized at the start of the 19th century with the founding of the Lanificio di Stia (Stia woolworks), an enormous industrial complex employing hundreds of workers. A large and interesting Wool Museum was opened in part of this complex in June 2010. The town is also known today for a special cloth known as Panno Casentino.  From an artistic and architectural point of view, Stia is a very interesting town. Piazza Tanucci, doubtless the most beautiful square in the Casentino area with its monumental 19th century fountain, is located here. Overlooking the square is the Romanesque parish church of Santa Maria Assunta that has its own page on this website. Another church well worth visiting is the Oratorio della Madonna del Ponte which holds beautiful work by the Della Robbia school. Several folk and cultural events take place during the year in Stia (and particularly in Piazza Tanucci), including the well-known Carnival and the biennial show of work in hammered iron. Two places in Stia are well worth a stroll: the first is the Parco alla Rana, a green and pleasant place along the river Arno which here is hardly more than a brook, and the second is through the gardens of the Palagio Fiorentino. This second route can be considered beneficial both to one’s health and to one’s knowledge, since visitors can drink the healthful waters that flow from the Fonte di Calcedonia spring (near the Calla Pass) and see the museum of contemporary art at the castle of the Palagio Fiorentino. This building is the 20th century re-make of a 13th century castle belonging to the Guidi family, which was destroyed in 1440 by Niccolò Piccinino.

Another interesting town to visit near Stia is Papiano. The castle of Urbech is located here. The town of Stia offers many opportunities for walks and excursions. The most fascinating of these is certainly Monte Falterona because besides its lovely landscape, there are two particularly picturesque sites: the headwaters of the Arno, as mentioned by Dante and the Lago degli Idoli, which was sacred to the Etruscans.