The hamlet of Lari traces its origins back to the Etruscan age, but the village saw its importance increasing during the Middle Ages thanks to its castle, that soon became one of the most strategical fortresses of the area.
After the conquest of Pisa by the Florentines in 1406, the city, once cradle of medieval arts, saw many of its artists on the wane, replaced by the artists coming from Florence, the new master of the area.
Benozzo Gozzoli was born in Lese but he moved to Florence when he was still a child, and he spent the early part of his career as a pupil and assistant of Fra Angelico, better known as the Beato Angelico (the Blessed Angelic) for the elegance of his painting.
Near to Lajatico, on the road that connects the Valdera with the Valdicecina, 532 mt. on the sea level and on top of the hill surrounding the countryside, we come across one of the most ancient defensive buildings in the region of Valdera.
The fortress of Pietracassia takes its name from the crack in the rock that marks out the hill where the fortress was built (“pietra cassa” meaning “broken rock“), but following other interpretations the name could refer to the Roman triumvir Cassio: the location of this building was already known in Etruscan times for its closeness with the important copper mine of Montecatini, and without any doubt the place was known by Romans too.
On top of the castle’s tower there was a beautiful natural garden, the playground of rare and colorful butterflies invading the castle every spring time. The narrow winding roads scented of freshly baked bread and sweet pastry and the bell tower stroke the hours of peaceful and joyful days.
The castle was inhabited by nice people living in little houses made of bricks and ceramics and terracotta floor.
The children living there were all well-behaved, educated and good at school…but one day something very strange happened!
The sun did not rise, the bell tower stopped, all the little houses were dimly lit with shades of blue, yellow and pink and all the inhabitans found themselves turned into elfs and fairies…”
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