Isola del Giglio - Castello
The outline of Giglio Castello, perched on the top of the island, can be seen form the ferry coming from Porto Santo Stefano. The village can be reached following the six-kilometre road from Giglio Porto. Often at night, the fortified town is enshrined in fog that compounded with moonlight gives Giglio Castello an eerie atmosphere. Giglio Castello is the most ancient village on the island, surrounded by medieval walls built by the city of Pisa, which owned the island in the XIII century. The main square, outside the walls (Piazza Gloriosa) is 400m over sea level; it can becquite nippy in winter, but extremely pleasant during the torrid summer days.
Piazza Gloriosa, with its granite monument in its centre, bars, shops, restaurants and even a reassuring police station around it, looks like any other village piazza. But there is something that makes this piazza special: it is the ancient walled town surrounded by ten towers culminating in its citadel, built by the Aldobrandeschi, an Italian noble family from southern Tuscany. The view from the main gateway is of narrow granite cobbled roads winding upwards. The visitor that passes by the Town Hall, will eventually reach the 15th century church of San Pietro, housing some noticeable art treasures such as a ivory Crucifix by the artist Gianboogna, and an ornate silver reliquary containing the forearm of San Mamiliano, the local patron saint. The citadel square is also interesting, used during the summer for open-air shows.
With a bit of luck the visitor could meet a local wine (Vino Ansonaco) grower. The wine makers keep their wine in ancient cellar and often sell their limited produce privately to friends and visitors. The medieval peasants from Castello used to get to their vineyards by donkey, and it is still possible to see small donkey stables underneath some of the houses. There is also a panoramic ring road that goes around Castello from outside its walls (Strada Panoramica). By walking along this road the visitor can enjoy a spectacular 360-degree view of the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago. From this viewpoint stunning sunsets and spectacular dawns can be admired.
To rent a room in Castello can be rewarding. The visitor can enjoy the sea-side life in the morning and relax in a friendly village atmosphere, typical of Maremma, in the evening. The old inhabitants of Castello are the guardians of the island’s artisan past. A friendly visitor can learn from them the secret of basket weaving, wine harvest or the most disparate legends and stories of the island of Giglio. (Translated by Gianluca Fanciulli)