Highlights of this trip

  • The doors
  • The castle
  • The panorama
  • The city center
  • Piazza Matteotti
How not to be able to take a leap? (:
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Your must-have travel gadget for this trip

A good Camera :)

Best things to do in Lari

What to see in Lari: the Castello dei Vicari and the historic center

Where do We begin, Lari? To begin, let me state that we are in Tuscany, amid the Pisan hills. Lari is a little community of roughly 8000 people located midway between Volterra and Pisa, about 30 kilometers distant. Paesello? It's a little medieval settlement! Delicious, peaceful, and immersed in history and customs! For some years, it has been a fragment of the dispersed municipality of Casciana Terme Lari, and the orange flag of the Touring Club has been flying from the top of its castle, the pride of the whole Valdera area and important pivot of every visit, a guarantee of environmental tourism excellence.

Lari is the quintessential leisurely destination, to be enjoyed in little doses while exploring its shops and gourmet delights and conversing with the Larians about the mythology and incidents that surround its majestic citadel... Last but not least, Lari is also known as the cherry capital of the world! We went there recently for the 63rd edition of the festival honoring this regional fruit, which comes in 19 distinct types.

There's no shortage of topics to discuss, so let's get down to business and visit the historic district!

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Medieval Doors

1 The Porta Volterrana (to the south-east), erected in the fourteenth century and equipped with a drawbridge until 1780, is one of three openings along the fortress walls that lead to the old center.

2 The most picturesque, Porta Pisana or Maremmana (to the south-west), was preceded by a smaller door that, if the attackers had succeeded to breach the first hurdle, would have led them into a tiny space vulnerable to easy attacks.

3 The earliest, the Porta Fiorentina (to the north), dates from the V-VI centuries.

The defensive system of Lari, which consisted of reinforced walls and moats, was an almost impregnable bastion, and the earliest source to mention it is a map of the Pisan hills area produced in 1503 by none other than Leonardo da Vinci, which is now on display at Windsor Castle in England.

Continuing down the street from any door (there is a parking lot very close to each, respectively "Caduti Divisione Acqui", "Piazza XX Settembre" and "Porta Fiorentina"), you will come to Castello dei Vicari, which is separated from the houses by a double wall and located exactly in the center of the town according to a typical medieval layout, complete with narrow alleys and courtyards that in some glimpses seem to transport you back

Santa Maria Assunta and San Leonardo Churches

Walking along the walls on via del Castello, via Panattoni, and via Dante, we come upon the church of Santa Maria Assunta and San Leonardo, where the Vicars (I'll explain later) were invested after a serious rite in front of the people. Instead, a few steps away is the Oratory of the Blessed Sacrament and Mercy, which stands where a cemetery covered by a loggia stood until the 18th century; within are various antiquities, including eighteenth-century sepulchral and memorial tombstones and a seventeenth-century holy water stoup.

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The Loggas of marketing

Piazza Matteotti expands up a few meters farther on, at the intersection of via Dante and via del Castello. The Logge del Mercato, which have hosted the covered market every Monday since their erection in 1665 by popular will (and the labor of Cosimo I de'Medici), may be seen from here.

The Casa del Fascio was erected above the loggia, which is now the municipal administration's council chamber, during Mussolini's twenties.

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And now we've arrived to Lari's insignia, his castle!


Lari (an Etruscan and Roman term alluding to Lare, a deity who safeguarded the household hearth and, in a broader sense, the land and routes in general) has Etruscan origins and a thriving past in Roman times, as its name indicates. Its traces may be discovered in the Etruscan necropolis of San Ruffino (VIII-VII century BC) and other archaeological findings in the municipality of Larigiano, such as a first-century BC Roman figure preserved in the Castello dei Vicari. The castle was first mentioned in 1045, when the bishops of Lucca, who had previously controlled the territory, handed it to the Ubezzini family of Pisa. The strategic significance of the location was not lost on Pisa: from the top of the walls, you can view the entire Valdarno and even a small Tower of Pisa! If you can't find it, ask a Larian, who established the captain's seat there throughout the years to come, until 1406, when Florence burst in, conquered Pisa, and secured its status as guardian in Lari, making it the Vicariate's seat.

The Vicars' Castle is a castle built by the Vicars

The houses around the castle block the view for people entering the settlement, which is why the sense of awe while standing in front of those towering walls is palpable. Even though the current structure is not the original early Middle Ages structure (it dates from the first half of the seventeenth century) with red bricks instead of stone, the figure of the Castle of Lari has maintained its grandeur and severity, perfectly adequate to the role it has played for centuries.

This was where the justice of Lari and the neighboring communities was administered: in addition to the courtroom, there was a basement, dubbed "hell," where the convicts were placed... But there was something even horrible than prisons: agony halls! The detainees were tortured to get a confession before being killed.

Justice was overseen by the Vicar, who was chosen from from the Florentine cadet nobles. His reign lasted six months, during which he commanded an army and was in charge of tax collection. Year after year, the Vicars of Lari replaced one another until 1848, when the castle became the site of the district court and prefecture for another 100 years before losing its public purpose and falling into disuse in 1969. It has been turned into a highly interesting museum, which has recently been interactive, thanks to the late 1990s recovery and historical re-evaluation!

Today, the castle...

The courtyard of the castle, which includes the well that takes water from the cistern and a little church, is reached by a large stairway. 92 family coats of arms of as many vicars adorn the exterior walls of the building, which they affixed together with the year and signature once the assignment was completed, as was the chivalric tradition; among these are important emblems such as those of the Della Robbia, the Capponi, or the Medici themselves.

We would have acquired nearly 600 coats of arms if everyone had performed this rite! Someone had it painted recently, and therefore time has erased what may have been a priceless memory.

Photography tips

Where to photograph?

The Lari's Castle and the main Piazza

My Camera

Sony alpha 7

Is any special equipment needed?


3. Travel Insurance

Why WorldNomads has impressed us so much?

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  4. They cover a range of adventure sports and activities
  5. Very high availability worldwide

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Post Author: wildcouple95 |

We are Alessia & Luca. From Tuscany with love ♥ Passionate about travel, photography, nature, sports and trekking. Fall in love with our Italy, with its beautiful crystal clear waters and high mountains, but we don't miss opportunities to travel abroad. Let's travel together!

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