Italian little Italies: Capalbio
- WTI Magazine #127 May 16, 2020
A borgo with a fascinating history, Capalbio, which over the years has achieved a national reputation derived from the excellent attendance of politicians, intellectuals, journalists and personalities of the showbiz, who have elected as “buen ritiro” the historic center and the countryside of Capalbio, by virtue of the beauty and quiet privacy of the places.
The historic centre of Capalbio, with its unaltered medieval town plan, is surrounded by walls made of local stone, which are a characteristic double circle, with the inner walls, lower, dating back to the medieval period and the outer walls, higher, from the Renaissance period. The walls are accessible and from here you can enjoy a magnificent view.
You enter the borgo through Porta Senese, built when Capalbio passed under the control of the Republic of Siena and bearing the plaque of 1418 in memory of the restructuring of the walls and a Medici coat of arms of 1601, inserted after the annexation of Capalbio to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
Going up the narrow streets you reach the Aldobrandesca Fortress, one of the southernmost outposts of the Republic of Siena. In this period restructuring works were carried out giving it its present appearance. The tower is the original nucleus of the complex and has a crenellation that rests on shelves that enclose blind arches.
Next to the fortress is Palazzo Collacchioni, where the Conrad Graf fortepiano of 1823, which Giacomo Puccini played several times when he was a guest of the Collacchioni family, is kept. From the entrance to the Palace, moving to the right and along the tower, you arrive in front of the Church of San Nicola, on whose side stands the twelfth century bell tower, whose top had a dome in the style of Siena. Inside there are valuable frescoes by the ‘400 Umbrian and Sienese school .
Outside the walls, in Piazza della Provvidenza, we find the Oratory of Providence, in ancient times it was a chapel built for the worship of a lost image of the Madonna, today here you can admire the most important fresco of the entire Silver Coast: a Madonna of Providence, attributed to Perugino.
The territory of Capalbio boasts artistic and naturalistic attractions of international level such as the enchanting Tarot Garden, a museum-park created in Garavicchio between 1979 and 1996, which houses a series of statues and groups of sculptures depicting the tarot, made by Niki de Saint Phalle. And the WWF Oasis of Burano Lake, the first WWF oasis born in Italy in 1968, which houses the Tower of Buranaccio dating back to 1563.
The coast (13 km. of splendid beach without settlements), is dominated by the tombolo, the characteristic Mediterranean vegetation scented with juniper, heather, myrtle, pine and broom; going up through the placid and tidy countryside, among rows of vines and olive trees, you will find the medieval borgo of Capalbio, located on a hill surrounded by the bush, gradually thicker and more mysterious, home of wild boar and roe deer; overall a territory with an ancient flavor, which has preserved a wild and peaceful appearance at the same time, in a natural environment of extraordinary value.
The name Capalbio derives from Caput Album or Calvus, probably referring to the human head, the original symbol of the village, or rather to the white alabasters that characterize the place.
Capalbio is the southernmost municipality of Tuscany. It stands on a hill in front of the tombolo (ayre) of Burano, in its medieval shell wrapped in a cloak of Mediterranean scrub and crops. If you go in the opposite direction to the tourist flows, you will discover its mystery, as in the tarot game that a great artist, Niki de Saint Phalle, made the protagonist of a nearby dreamy garden village, inspired by Gaudí’s Parque Güell in Barcelona. Immersed in an enviable environmental ecosystem, which has its roots in Etruscan and Roman times, as evidenced by the findings of the colony of Cosa, Capalbio also experienced the Renaissance.