In the village of Castelnuovo Garfagnana stands an imposing military-style fortification which, after having been the seat of the Este government and having hosted the famous Ludovico Ariosto, in the role of governor, took the name of "Rocca Ariostesca" between 1522 and 1525.
It is considered a symbol of Castelnuovo and is the evolution of a small garrison that already existed starting from the 10th century. However, the building as we know it today dates back to two centuries later, in fact it went through changes and renovations throughout the thirteenth century and an also an extension ordered by the leader Castruccio Castracani in the early fourteenth century, who also took care of the city walls.Inside the walls of Castelnuovo, the rocca built by the Dukes of Este incorporates part of them to the west and dominates the main square with its solid trapezoidal form, which appears lighter because of the presence of two small inner courts. Irregular in its layout, the compact volume of the structure is marked by an escarpment on its sides and lightened at the top by a gallery jutting out on stone brackets. The portion of wall near the piazza is closed between two massive cylindrical bastions, while a smaller rectangular tower in front of the entrance completes the enclosure, inside which the heavy quadrangular mass of the tower, today the town's clock tower, stands out.
The terrace, built in conjunction with the opening of the monumental arch located at the entrance to the city center, dates back to 1675.
Despite having received extensive damage during the Second World War, when it became the town hall, today it is in perfect condition, thanks also to the restorations that have taken place over time.With its low escarpment the 15th century rectangular tower used to be accessible only by a gangway; it preserves traces of the early structure in the loopholes on the first and second floors, later covered up by other constructions.
Now known as the seat of the Archaeological Museum, where you can admire finds from the prehistoric, Ligurian-Apuan and Etruscan periods, it also hosts cultural events and temporary exhibitions.
Moreover , at the foot of the Rocca every Thursday you can visit the traditional local market : an opportunity for the inhabitants of the nearby towns in Garfagnana to go to Castelnuovo. The market is an ancient ritual consolidated over time, just imagine that , in the past , by ducal rule, not even criminals could be arrested during this day in the village.