Pratovecchio is a typical small Italian medieval village with narrow cobbled streets. The village, along with the hamlets nearby, offers varied attractions to visitors whether you are a history lover, an artist or a nature lover, as does much of the Casentino region of Tuscany.
The historic center of Pratovecchio is based around the Piazza Vecchia.The main church of this small town is in this square and called the Provostship of the Holy Name of Jesus.
The Church was built beside the bridge house and is the present hall of the Podesta. The church has one nave with a tiled wooden ceiling dating from the 16th century. Inside there is a wooden crucifix of the 15th century, and a painting of the Madonna and Child by the so-called Master of Varlungo*.
Pratovecchio was the birthplace of a famous painter, Paolo Uccello (1397-1475), named as one of the 100 most influential painters of the renaissance*.
Another religious site of particular importance in Pratovecchio is a shrine located in the so-called "Borgo Mezzo", which holds pottery from the school of Della Robbia, while another important artistic site is the Camaldolese Monastery which has several art works of interest including the "Coronation of the Virgin" by Giovanni Bizzelli (1550-1607).
Also in Pratovecchio be sure to see the Dominican Monastery with the Church of All Saints, with art works from the 18th century and the Church of the Abbey of Santa Maria at Poppiena, dating back to the 11th century.
Church of San Pietro at Romena
Particularly worth visiting is the church of San Pietro at Romena. This parish church is of Romanesque architecture and was built on the site of an a earlier building dating from the 8th century AD. According to an inscription, the consecration of the parish church dates from 1152. The church was built in stone and has a facade restored in the early 18th century.
The square bell tower is also very old. The apse has two rows of arches and is open at the top. The interior is divided into three naves by columns of stone that are decorated with Romanesque capitals carved by artists of the Lombard school and decorated with foliage and various figures.
The church ceiling is constructed from open beams. Note inside how the presbytery is raised, the apse is semicircular and the floor is on different levels with the windows carefully placed to illuminate the entire church.
Archaeological excavations here in recent years have discovered the remains of limestone of an older church, and it seems that this was built in turn on the ruins of a primitive Etruscan and Roman sacred building.
Castle of Romena, Pratovecchio
The Parish Church of Pratovecchio is located next to the famous Castle of Romena which is surely one of the oldest castles in the whole of Casentino, with its low walls and high towers. Its first construction dates back to the second half of the 10th century. In 1357 the Counts of Guidi gave the castle to Florence.
The fortress has a quadrangular shape with three circles of walls with battlements, towers, walkways and defense systems on each side. The outer wall of the castle also contained the village. The castle was originally accessible through four gates, of which today only one remains.
In the central part of the fortress was the courtyard, with the south tower of the prison and from where you could enter the house of the lord.
At the end of the 13th century with the reconstruction Romena began to lose importance with the sale of the town to Florence and after a century the castle had lost its strategic importance and was left to decay. In 1579, an earthquake in Casentino, further reduced the castle to ruins.
In the castle there is now the "Museum of Archaeology and ancient weapons" which contains some interesting Etruscan finds.
The region around Pratovecchio
Pratovecchio is a mountain area that offers tourists a natural environment of great interest to hikers and nature lovers as well as a historical and artistic heritage of great importance. You can easily get from Pratovecchio to the National Park of Casentino Forests which reaches more than 1000 meters above sea level, and explore the pine forests that surround it.
Alternatively you could go to the hermitage of Camaldoli, founded by St. Romuald, to visit the site of another famous monastery.
The ancient traditions of the region can also be seen in the village where you can find works of craftsmanship in wood, and very tasty dishes, such as the local ewe's milk cheese, the Tuscan ham and the famous Chestnut of the Pratomagno.