Pratovecchio has been made part of the National Park of Casentine Forests A centre in the Casentino area in the province of Arezzo, with about 3,000 inhabitants, Pratovecchio represents one of the historical nucleuses of the Guidi Counts’ power, feudatories of the Empire that dominated the Casentino until the XV century. The village’s origins date back to the Early Middle Ages but the first, definite mention of it is from 1191. It was mentioned in an Imperial certificate of Henry IV, in which he confirms it is a fief of the Guidi. HISTORY Such a document has always been considered of great historical importance because it lists the holdings over which the Guidi Counts dominated for many centuries. Among these is also Pratovecchio that was probably already a hundred years old, having developed around an ancient monastery from the 10th century. Until the XIV century many different branches of the Guidi family dominated the area. One of these, the Dovadola, was responsible for the building of walls and moats around the medieval village. In 1367 the castle was purchased by the Guidi family from Poppi, right in the middle of their battles against the super-power of the Florentine Guelphs. On the day of reckoning, signed in the Poppi castle in 1440, Pratovecchio is subjugated along with the whole of the Casentino area to the Florentine Republic, which a couple of decades later would become the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, with jurisdiction over a large part of today’s region. The town of Pratovecchio was also the birthplace, in 1397, of the Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello. Florence, also taking possession of the woodland belonging to the Guidi family, transformed Pratovecchio into a wood-sorting centre on the way to the capital town. The area took on such importance that the Lorena family, successors of the Medici family at the head of the Grand Duchy, destroyed the forests that surrounded their own personal heritage. The transportation of wood was carried out via road to the Arno River, from which it headed to Pisa and Florence.
Subsequently, the town also developed an important resource in the textile sector. Romena, The church of San Pietro This stone church takes visitors back in time to when it was built in 1152. Today it is a much beloved place for prayer and worship The church of San Pietro a Romena is a Romanesque architectural jewel which sits proudly in the beautiful Casentino countryside. It is dedicated to San Pietro Apostolo (Saint Peter the Apostle) and is considered one of the most important churches in the area, not least for its careful stone work which has stood the test of time over the centuries since its construction in 1152. It is about 3kms from Pratovecchio on the Via Maior road. The architecture of the interior of the church is particularly noteworthy. The church is split into three naves divided by decorated stone pillars. The asymmetrical windows create a special effect with the light that pours through them, with bright illuminated areas alternating with dark, impenetrable pools of shadow. The oldest part of the building is the square bell tower. The Romena religious complex also houses the ruins of an even more ancient church, beneath the church we see today. These ruins can be visited and are accessible down a stairway that descends from the end of the right nave. The church is much visited not only for its architectural beauty though, it is also well-known as a place of spiritual worship. It was here in 1991 that the Fraternity of Romena was created. The Castle: These ancient ruins belong to one of the most famous castles in Tuscany The beautiful Casentino valley provides the backdrop for the three imposing and majestic towers of the Romena Castle which rise up from an altitude of 621m. It is one of the most famous castles in Tuscany and has a long, rich history. It dates from around the beginning of the XI century when the Conti Guidi family made it one of the most important defensive fortresses in the region. Today the castle’s ruins are considered one of the most evocative sites in the Casentino area, both for the delightful natural surroundings and the architecture of the castle which blends in so well with the landscape. The imposing Romena Fort, with its drawbridge and prison tower, is a must-see for visitors to Casentino. The site has a wonderful panoramic view of the surrounding countryside and was immortalised by Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy.