Castelfiorentino, Tuscany, Italy
The great Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi designed this castle, which was built near Florence in 1424.
This castle, which is in excellent condition, features four angular towers and entirely-walkable crenellated walls. The property also includes 25 farmhouses, a hamlet with an 18th-century villa and a chapel in the forest; this estate has a total internal surface area of 35,000 sqm and includes 1,200 hectares of agricultural grounds – featuring vineyards and olive groves – and forests.
Confirmation that this castle in Tuscany was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi comes from Professor Massimo Ricci, one of the most esteemed experts on Brunelleschi’s architecture. Between the early 1400s and 1446, the year of his death, the Florentine Republic put Filippo Brunelleschi in charge of designing and building military fortresses around the city of Florence, even though he was already busy working on the Dome of Florence’s Cathedral. Brunelleschi was the only person who had true expertise on military fortifications in those years.
In those times, the lords who owned countryside castle-villas were also forced to fortify their properties with circular defensive walls equipped with towers, battlements, and other systems to help them against the attacks of their enemies.
Brunelleschi himself was entrusted with designing and guiding the works on one of these castle-villas near Florence, owned by the Pucci Florentine family, a property very similar to the famous Villa medicea della Petraia who had also been for some time attributed to this great architect.
There are many reasons for this attribution, including the fact that this building is entirely made of bricks, and with the same “technique” used on the Dome. When the castle was being built, Brunelleschi stopped using stones on the Dome of Florence’s Cathedral and started using bricks. Brickwork in this castle has been mastered to such a point that structures which would usually be built with stones were instead all systematically built with this material. No one in those years, except Filippo Brunelleschi, would have been able to do such a thing.
Other evidence includes that the castle features several architectural works (doors, windows, corbels, furnishings) masterfully designed in Brunelleschi’s style. In the early 1400s, when he was still alive, no one would have even been able to copy them. The definitive proof, according to the professor, is a peculiar walkway standing on a half-vault system, a structure that would be feared to collapse, seemingly impossible to stand. One of the impossible solutions that only the great Brunelleschi could have designed.
Another important clue is the fact that Giovanni di Antonio Pucci, brother of the original owner of this castle, was a supplier of the lime and sand used to build the Dome of Florence’s Cathedral: this proves there was a direct connection between the Pucci family and Brunelleschi who, as it is well-known, personally checked the quality and costs of all the materials used for his great feat.
The history of this castle is full of curiosities, for example, three Popes stayed here: Leo X, Clement VII, and Paul III Farnese, who spent seventeen days here in 1541. Lorenzo the Magnificent, Grand Duke Ferdinand III of Tuscany and King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy also spent some time in this manor. In 1944 the castle was used as a military command by General Mark Clark to coordinate the liberation of Italy.