Toscana - Places to Visit - Castel San Niccolo'
Strada, the administrative centre of the commune, is dominated by the ancient castle of the Guidis.
The main square is partly occupied by a pretty arcade, built with local stone, that served as a market-place.
Here and in the streets of the village is held each year a stonework fair, an exhibition of objects made by sculptors and stone-cutters.
Located next to the Palazzo Vettori Tommasi, the Chapel of the Visitation contains excellent 17th-century panel paintings.
Located on an offshoot of the Via Maior, the Church of San Martino in Vado is near the old ford (vado) over the Solano Torrent. This is the only parish church in Casentino that still has its original faade. With its simple lines, the churchs most important sculptural element is its capitals.
The floral ornamentation is executed minutely and the Lombard influence is softened by the skilful hands of local stone-carvers.
Looming above the village of Strada is the ancient Castello dei Guidi and the Torre dellOrologio (clock tower). The castle is actually a stronghold, as well as a small manor house with very elegant architectural forms, surrounded by a charming medieval village.
The complex of buildings belonging to the old castle includes two chapels, the Chapel of San Niccol and the Chapel of the Crucifix, which preserves a fresco of the Crucifixion. The Crucifixion, a 14th-century fresco of the Florentine school, is of remarkable artistic quality. Both the composition and the draughtsman ship recall the school of Giotto.
At Borgo alla Collina, in the Church of San Donato, which holds the remains of the humanist writer and scholar Cristoforo Landino, one can admire Lo Sposalizio Mistico di Santa Caterina, a triptych by the Maestro del Borgo.
The numerous places of worship scattered over the countryside, particularly the churches at Ristonchi, Vertelli, Pagliericcio, and Rifiglio, hold excellent paintings and sculptures.
A trip to Cetica, to the Church of San Michele, gives an opportunity to admire a triptych by Bicci di Lorenzo and a refined Madonna and Child by Pesellino.
From Bagni di Cetica, whose frigid waters are considered beneficial in the treatment of numerous ailments, one can reach the broad mountain-top grasslands of the Pratomagno for an outing in an extremely beautiful natural setting.