The “borgo” of Lustignano
and its prehistoric roots
The “borgo”, following the structure of a characteristic medieval castle, overlooks the right bank of the Cornia river from its 400-meters-high hill.
It originally dates back to prehistoric times, but it started having an important military and political role with the Etruscans, because of its strategic location on the road between Volterra and Populonia.
The name of the castle, which is reportedly a latinization of the Etruscan name “Listenio”, is the main evidence of the Roman rule over it. After the Romans, the African bishop Regolo reportedly fled to Lustignano during the Arian persecutions in the 5th century a.D. Just like every town in this area, Lustignano witnessed the battles that were fought for the control over the land at the end of the Lombards’ occupation and the beginning of the Franks’ in the 9th century a.D.. Protagonists of these fights were the Monteverdi abbey, built by the Lombards, and the bishops of Volterra, and then those same bishops and the municipality of Volterra.
In the middle of the 13th century, the castle in Lustignano was built. They also built walls around it in order to protect it from the people scattered around the countryside around the beautiful San Giovanni Battista church built on a hill not far away. The town is still standing there, with its original snail-like winding structure.
Gates and small posterns led to the walls, only small parts of which are still standing today, through narrow roads called “chiassini”. There are two tanks at the beginning of the “borgo”, then two parallel roads lead to a small square with a vault leading to a walkway outside the walls. Some artworks by a contemporary local artist decorate the “piazze” of Lustignano and show the vitality of this small and ancient town.