Una casa vacanze nella maremma toscana Rotating Header Image

Belagaio castle

If you leave the village along ‘via Trento’, you find – before the cemetery, on your left hand – a white country road called “Belagaio Road”.

Belagaio is an ancient feudal castle in the middle of the wood, that was a property of various powerful families of the area: Aldobrandeschi family, S. Lorenzo al Lanzo Abbey, Ardengheschi family and, finally, Grottanelli family (*1).

Surely it was a strategic point in Farma valley, very important also for the numerous ironworks of the area. In 1800 it was changed by Grottanelli family in a farm-house but it still has the fascination of an old castle.

Actually Belagaio Castle is a farm of the State Forest Department and it is in the middle of a wildlife reserve (*2) which also houses an experimental and didactic pilot enterprise for the protection and the diffusion of Maremma horses.

Just under the castle there is an interesting cave (The Tomb); you may visit il only with an authorization of the forest guards and guided by a speleologist.

The road from Casal di Pari to Belagaio castle – about 8 kilometres – has a particular history: it was built in the fifthies with the money appropriated by the italian government to help unemployed people, very numerous in these little countries after the second world war.

It was not easy to obtain money from the Government. The budget to build Belagaio Road was obtained thanks to the efforts of the mayor and the deputy mayor of the municipal district of Civitella Paganico (Mr. Carlo Gremignani and Mr. Ulisse Rustichini respectively) and the cooperation of my father, Lidio Leoncini.

In those years the little farms managed by a single family were in decline; the same for the cutting of the trees, the charcoal manufacture (owing to a lower demand of this fuel) and for the mining (*3) of antimony, argentiferous lead and copper (mines were closed for exhausting).

A charcoal under construction        The coal shed

Between 1950 and 1960 many young people emigrated searching a work in the cities in which industry, building, tourism and many services were growing; some families preferred to move to a city also to make easier their children to attend higher studies; at Casal di Pari, in fact, there was only the primary school.

The workmen who built Belagaio Road lived at Casal di Pari, Pari and in the surrounding country-sides and they came to work by feet or by bicycle.

The road-bed was completely hand made; the only available “technologies” were hoes, picks, mallets, hand-carts and gunpowder to make the mines which served to explode the rocks hindering the layout or to get the stones for the road-bed.

Most of the workmen were illiterates and their day salary was a few coppers and foodstuffs (mostly “pasta” and honey). My father directed the road yard and paid the workmen; at the ground floor of my house there was the store of the foodstuffs.

Belagaio Road walks though a very nice wood, full of the typical plants of the area: maremma maquis (arbutus, broom …), oaks, ilexes, cork-oaks, ash-trees, hornbeams, beeches, yew-trees, chestnut-trees … There are also many pine-trees but these are not typical plants of the area: they were planted about sixty years ago, after a big fire which destroyed in 1944 a larg part of the wood between Roccastrada and Casal di Pari; it was made a reafforestation with pines for their quick growth. But pines spread too much and now the State Forest Department gives a money contribution to cut some pines and to take care of the typical plants of the area.

Once many trees were very important for the daily life of people and animals.

During the second world war people dried, roasted and powdered acorns to make a powder like “coffee”.

Oaks, holm oaks, and cork-oaks beared acorns for swine (and the swine meat was an important food).

 oak      holm   chestnu


For a very long time the chestnut tree was the life of many peasant families. The fruits were dried into drying rooms (you can see still in the wood some ruined drying rooms) and then were powdered in the mills. With the powdered chestnuts, in the winter, peasants prepared a dish called “polenta”. Chestnuts, like acorns, were also used to nourish the swine. Also its wood was very important to build houses and furnishing and for winter heating.

From the outer part of the trunk of cork-trees it was extracted the cork. The cork trade is still practised.

The broom – very plentyful in the woods surrounding the village – is a very important plant: it is used to make brooms (to day less than some years ago), fences, sheds … Its root, very nice and hard, is used to make pipes.

Near the village there is a briar pipes factory. This work, already present in the XIX century, was interrupted and only recently it began again.

In the wood you may find also the birch and the yew tree. In the wood there are also many wild animals: wild boars, roc-bucks, fallow-deer, hares, foxes … but it’s difficult to meet them by day. If you are lucky and you are able to walk very silently, you can meet them at dawn or at sunset, mostly near water-courses. Shootimg season is from september to february: they hunt hares, pheasants, wild boars …

You may find also very rare (and protected) animals: the otter, the marten, the bats, the polecat, the beech-marten, the wild cat, the fallow deer, the moufflon …


In Farma valley, near Belagaio castle, there is a little lake (Troscia pool) in which you may find the alpin triton. There are also many birds: the nuthatch, the tawny owl, the owlet, the owl, the hawk…

In autumn you can find in the wood many kinds of mushrooms: boletus, agarics, chanterelles …

From 1976 in the first week end of october at Casal di Pari there is the boletus feast.


(*1) The word “Belagaio” comes from the latin word “Pelagus”, the marsh once existing in the subsidence in front of the castle.

(*2) If you like to visit the castle you have to ask to the Forest Department (t. 0566 40019).

(*3) Casal di Pari is the native village of Aurelio Galleppini (Galep), the designer of Tex Willer. His family, in fact, moved from Romagna to Casal di Pari where his father, a minimg engineer, was the director of some mines.


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