The Ancient Fortress
The Rocca del Cerruglio (the "Stronghold of the Cerruglio"), ancient name for the fortress, probably dates back to the XIIIth century AD, although there is no archival document to confirm this date. This fortress, is the Most important historical symbol of Montecarlo, and it rises on the highest point of the Cerruglio hill. Its oldest part, dating back to the early years of the XIV century and it has the aspect of an isosceles triangle. It is still well visible today, with its corners welded in the Mastio Tower (a dungeon with a semicircular shape) and in the towers, the Tower of the Apparizione and the Tower of St. Barbara.
The structure of the dungeon can be dated back to a previous period, ‘probably’ the XII century, if not even to the XI century. It was around the year 1331 that the Rocca del Cerruglio became part of the European history. In 1332 AD the Rocca fell under the King John of Bohemia and his son Charles (the late Emperor Charles IV) came to Lucca's aid and chased the Florentine army out of Lucca and the surrounding country. The Stronghold of Cerruglio and the nearby village, Vivinaia, were abandoned and during the escape the town of Vivinaia was completely destroyed. The new village born nearby the Stronghold was named Mons Karoli in honor and remembrance of the young prince Charles. During the XVth century the fortress was enlarged towards the village. Subsequently, it was enlarged in the same century on orders from Paolo Guinigi, Lord of Lucca at that times, and it was completed in 1555 by order of the Grand-duke Cosimo I dei Medici (huge ramparts were added to the complex). The latter ‘part’ personally visited Montecarlo and provided for building of ample fortifications, among which the imposing fort of Piazza D'Armi.
When the general political conditions changed, the Grand-dukes who succeeded abandoned the costly projects and military works. Finally, in 1775 Pietro Leopoldo disarmed the fortress which, after becoming property of the Commune, was subsequently ceded to private citizens. The fortress is a fine example of military construction bearing elements that are representative of the Middle Ages and of the following periods, up to beginning of 1900. Private property since 1775, it is the object of continuos conservation and restoration works carried on by the owners. Its restored rooms and gardens host exhibitions and cultural events. To be seen: donjon, the enchanted garden in Italian style, medieval and renaissance defensive systems (passageways, cannon-holes, murder-holes, etc.).