Route 2: Villages and Castles
Starting from Castelnuovo dei Sabbioni it is possible to explore ancient and now desert castles, rich in history and enigmas still unresolved.
The first step is to Castelnuovo d'Avane, fortified village noted since the tenth century and abandoned in the middle of the 900 because of mining activity. Going then to the Massa dei Sabbioni, turning towards the town of Le Corti, we find the path 27 of CAI leads to the ruins of Castle Montedomenichi, magic and cool place even during the hottest, where the eye can sweep over the whole valley of the Arno to the contours of the Pratomagno, or linger on the stones worn by time imagining the life that animated the fortress.
 
The Montedominici Castle 

The old route linking Val d'Avane to Chianti has very ancient origins and in the past it held a strategic importance as demonstrated by the presence, in the highest part of the Chianti hills, of the imposing ruins of the castle of Montedominici or Montedomenichi.
Originally, the "old way of Siena" crossed the hills of Meleto and Pianfranzese and finally to Ponte a Fano Bridge and then climb up the ridge of the hills of Chianti joining up with the road that connects Radda and Greve.
Mining activity has erased the original route and now to reach the fortress of Montedominici must walk the path 27 of the CAI. This, starting near the town of Massa dei Sabbioni, through the small nucleus of Le Corti to get to the shrine commemorating the village of San Martino, deleted from mining. From here the route begins to climb up to the imposing ruins of the fort.
The walk has already been rewarded by the beautiful panorama that sweeps over the Valdarno and Pratomagno.

The castle, built on an old Roman settlement, seems to have taken its name from the family Domeniche, founder of the fort mentioned in the scrolls of Badia a Coltibuono.
At the beginning of the fourteenth century the fortress was already part of the possessions of the powerful family of Franzesi and it is in the Castles of Montedominici and Pianfranzese that the landowners hosted, in 1308, the exiled Ghibellines from Florence.
At the center of numerous events of war, the castle was destroyed in 1483 by the Florentines, who had previously purchased to prevent it from falling into the hands of city rival Siena. Although small in a state of ruin, the castle reveals a certain grandeur.
One of the two towers, probably of later date than the rest of the building, is circular, rather unusual in the military solution of this part of Tuscany. Adjoining the castle stood a small church where, according to popular tradition, in the first half of every year on Ascension Day, focused large swarms of small moths, vulgarly called "Pauline", who died on arrival at place.

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