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This place belongs to the group:
PERSONALITY (Leonardo Da Vinci)



Article Isabella Dalla Vecchia -
and photos Mirko Urso e Gianluca Cinquilli -
Translate by Ilaria La Porta -

An early settlement is documented up to 780 b.c. due to the fact that this hill gave the possibility to control a large area which included part of the Arno River and the surrounding land.

The Verruca Castle was built in the  XII century and belonged to Pisa for a long period of time, being a real impregnable stronghold up to 1402 when Pisa was passed into the hands of Florentines who destroyed the fortress. It was regained in 1503 after a uprising of Pisa involving the  castle which was destroyed once again.

After this tragic episode it was not abandoned but it was restored six years later in 1509 by Antonio Da Sangallo and Luca Del Caprina although it has lost its importance that saw it as a bulwark in the perennial war between Pisa and Florence.

This place was the center of a complex system of defense scattered on the surrounding area which consisted of other castles and towers that communicated between themselves with sheets, ropes, banners and bows using a secret code that only few knew.

These secret signals were transmitted from this fortress to the Tower of Spuntone, the Castle of Asciano, the Castle of Agnano and the Castle of San Giuliano.. Unluckily today the Tower is abandoned, surrounded by vegetation that undermines day after day its ancient solidity.  

From November 2009 it is taken care by Compagnia of Calci, an association that deals with the maintenance of the fortress to preserve it as long as possible.

the Castle in Verrucana stone

The castle is called “della Verrucca” ( wart) due to the Verruca Mountain which has this name due to its shape which is similar to a wart. The rock it is made off is called Verrucana stone. The complex is build with  stone and brick, well visible in the top of an hill at 537 meter on the rock.
It has a hexagonal plant with fortifications only on four sides. It is possible to reach it only by one entrance after walking along a steep staircase in the rock. Some parties have collapsed, others are still solid.

The architecture results in many parts of different styles and materials this due to the restore done in various periods. The are some cylindrical towers build by Luca Del Caprina and on the far left there is a door. The north-west bastion was done by Antonio Da Sangallo, meanwhile a polygonal plant comes out on the west side. The surrounding vegetation gives to the building a fascinating look of “ a temple buried in the woods” even if they do not help to preserve the area.

Inside the castle there is an inscription written in a vulgar Italian which says “DODICI DI G(I)UGNO MCIII” (TWELVE OF JUNE MCIII). Today it is  preserved in the Museum of San Matteo in Pisa.

Underground rooms, secret passage and hidden treasure

In it are still present some underground rooms which can be reached walking along some stairs and openings in the ground. There are the remains of an ancient cistern build with two different stones, the “verrucana” and a different one which comes from the “Buca delle Fate” (Fairly hole) a quarry from which material was extracted for the construction of nearby buildings.

A curiosity, the keep was dismantled in time when the gunpowder was a protagonist in battles because it could become a double edged sword. On one hand it was possible to use it as a shelter, on the other one it could become a trapper in case it had collapsed due to the guns.

Nearby the north-west bastions there is a large room where once there was a secret passage which allowed to go outside the castle in case of emergency escape. According to a legend , which has not been verified, this passage allowed to reach a tunnel which connected the fortress to Pisa.

This gallery remains a legend since such an important and gargantuan work would have remained in the history as a great feat of engineering. In fact it’d be 10 kilometers long and there is any information  on it. It would be the only one in the world and it is impossible….. even if we do not like to use this word…. Underground rooms would be numerous and not all explored.

Here below we have transcribed the legend of the secret passage and the hidden treasure that is kept in the Sanctuary of Sant’Agostino in Nicosia and that can be read on the web site 
Daltramontoallalba (are present other legend regarding the castle and the near by Santuario di Nicosia):

Few people know about the secret passage that branched off  from the Verruca. There were rumors, someone said that it was possible to reach Pisa walking under the mountain along the plains up to the Fortress of Levante. This is near by a bridge which is called Fortezza.
Others said that the passage allowed to connect the Verruca with the Rock of Caprona. I knew that this was one of the many legends surrounding the Verruca, but I allowed the common people to believe it, allowing me to keep secret the real tunnel. I had my soldiers dug it, with great difficulties, so to reach undisturbed Nicosia and it ended in the thick of the forest over the convent, where the rocks outcrop on the ridge of the mountain: it was used to send out some messenger or to allow to come in Verruca reinforcements, unseen by the enemies besieging under the walls. The soldiers that have dug it, who were almost all dead of old age, illness or in battle, put a very big square stone to close the passage to the castle.
During the time I have been there as a commander, I have put away a big fortune, and to keep it hidden from the soldiers I have buried it in a gallery, one of the many existing cave. When things become worst and I have understood that there was nothing more to be done against the enemy I just thought to save my life. Together with the few soldiers still alive we moved away the stone that closed the passage … and then we run away as fast as possible.   Unfortunately meanwhile the soldiers from Florence went inside the fortress and once they have seen the gallery they started to follow us as hungry wolfs. Exhausted, soon we were prey to the enemy who joined us almost at the end of the passage and bypassed us just for the line of the sword. Nobody for many centuries had news regarding this treasure. But some years ago, in Montemagno, was said that someone going around the rocks which  outcrop on the ridge that from Verruca goes down to Nicosia, has found the treasure and some armors. Nobody knows who has been the fortunate and he has been able to keep the secret.
The legend in which was said that the underground put in communication the Verruca with the Rock of Caprona and the other ones, more common, in which it is said that this passage, going under the mountain along the plain could reach Pisa, are remembered also by Giorgio Del Guerra in his “La Verruca – Badia – Montemagno”; always in this writing he states  that, missing the historical bases of these two legends and in front of the difficulties to build such underground tunnel, this passage was supposed to open in the direction of actual Nicosia, used in this way to send some messenger unseen by the enemy besieging the walls or to allow reinforcements to reach Verruca.

Another legends tells that Leonardo Da Vinci would have taken its inspiration from the height, where there is a steep rock, to design his machines for the flight.


We have already said that the castle is ruined and that is  possible to see it only on pictures, but it is this decadent aspect that makes it so fascinating. Its abandoned aspect gives a sense of mystery that is preserved in  its walls   which are themselves closed in the vegetation.

It is a fortress that has not been jet all explored and sometimes  are found some openings in the ground that take to hidden rooms, secret passages, places that have never been seen or that have been covered by slipped earth which maybe keep objects or secretes.

A “Verruca” ( wart ) on the Tuscania skin, a derogative  that means a defect of the skin, name maybe given by the people of Florence who had to work twice to conquer it. The fortress still stands there with its look of impregnability up to today,  since it isn’t easy to reach it  as well to visit. But it calls the student, the curious and the impassioned convincing them that going there, it will surely reveal some of its small intriguing mystery.

PERSONALITY (Leonardo Da Vinci)




Rocca della Verruca – Calci – Phone 0039 – (0)50 – 796117

How to get there
: The fortress is in the village of Calci, on the Verruca Mountain, at 540 meters high; Is possible to reach it with the highway Pisa – Firenze, Navacchio exit, then follow the way to Caprona. Here you have to leave the car and follow walking the path that takes you under the castle’s walls.
You can also reach it following the highway Firenze – Pisa, Cascina exit, then follow the way to Vicopisano. From here you take the street to Verruca cemetery. Even if most of it is dirt it is possible to do it by car up to the rock where there is the fortress (about 20minutes).

Guided tours
can be done in July starting from Vicopisano reserving in the Vicopisano library. Library : person to contact Morani Simona – Telephone : 0039 -  (0)50 – 796117

Article Isabella Dalla Vecchia -
and photos Mirko Urso e Gianluca Cinquilli -
Translate by Ilaria La Porta - -