Castellaro of Pignone
Comune di Pignone: Via Casale, 89 - 19034 Pignone (SP)
Telefono: 0187 88 70 02
Fax: 0187 88 70 03

The discreet and characteristic resort of Pignone is directly behind the Cinque Terre coast, close to Vernazza and Monterosso.  It is a lovely Medieval village with houses leaning against each other, and it is characterized by the nice Medieval bridge of stone, which was once the main entry point to the town.

The village, located in a side valley of Val di Vara, is part of the regional park of Montemarcello Magra and, since 2009, is the proud holder of the Touring club Orange Flag (Bandiera Arancione), a tourist-environment quality award for the hinterland municipalities. Pignone still maintains the architectural structure it had in the Middle Ages: the houses, united into a single body, enclose the town in a strong belt, which can only be accessed using the narrow alleys and the old bridge.

Near Pignone village is Bastia, a stone tower with a square layout which apparently dates back to the early Medieval period.  The hamlet of Casale is interesting, because it was where some ceramic or clay objects, and the ruins of fortresses in Monte Bastia, to the west of the village, were found.

Even Pignone therefore, like many other nearby resorts of La Spezia, bears deep and important traces of human history in the territory.  In particular, this territory has important prehistoric proof that throws some light on the life and customs of the ancient Ligurians.  

In an area of woods and grottoes, not far from the village, you reach the altopiano del Castellaro (Castellaro upland), an archaeological site that has yielded traces of high ground settlements from the Bronze and Iron Ages, one of the most important for Liguria.  The intervention tied to the development of the natural and cultural resources of Liguria project (Level 4 of the ROP ERDF 2007-2013) aims at carrying out a series of systematic excavations and making the site fully usable by restoring the access roads.

A little bit of history

The area of Castellaro di Pignone holds traces of human settlements starting from the Bronze and Iron Ages and continuing until the terracing that arrived just before the 20th century. It is a place, therefore, that has been lived in and exploited for thousands of years.

The first excavations were carried out during the 40s and brought to light different clay and terracotta pieces. The remaining dry walls date back to different ages, starting from the Bronze Age. The Fort seems to be much more extended than the area that has been surveyed until now, with the remains of a settlement on the hilltop.

It is upland with woodland at its feet, and an area with numerous ravines made of big calcareous rocks towards its peak. On the east and the west, along the more gentle sides of the mountain, it has several dry walls built using big stones with quite a regular shape. Scholars use the term Castellaro to indicate those mountains peaks that were used by Ligurian people to defend themselves from invasions, all of this before the Romans arrived and settled in the region.

Unlike others, that were only high places and easily defensible, Pignone was fortified with real building work that can still be seen today.
It is important evidence of these ancient people, the most ancient ethnic group according to Greek historiography, together with the Scythians and the Ethiopians.

In Liguria and Lunigiana the place name of Castellaro is still very common, and it defines hilltops where remains from the Paleolithic to the Iron Age can still be found. It is still not sure whether the term has Ligurian or Latin origins. Maybe for the ancient Ligurians the word simply meant upland or inhabited upland, which reconciles well with the archaeological data on those Castellari who never had defensive structures.

The intervention

The main purpose of the intervention it is to carefully survey the site, which needs an in-depth examination to understand the exact perimeter of the area.
In addition to defining a systematic excavation program, avoiding casual interventions, our aim is to guarantee usability by renovating the access routes.

To intervene on Castellaro di Pignone the territory will have to be read, evaluating the historical size of the territory around Luni. The study of the important Roman colony cannot be in-depth without considering the pre-Roman world that was present when the colony arose.

To recover the archaeological site, the area must be suitably delimited and a series of excavations carried out, two access tracks with wooden handrail must be arranged and information panels installed, the historic mule track restored and the collection of materials found in some caskets must be placed inside the town hall.
The creation of an Internet site to inform the public about the ancient Ligurian settlements has been programmed.

The project is divided into four modules: the study and delimitation of the archaeological area, first and second excavations, exhibition of the finds uncovered by the digs.
The first step is the delimitation and mapping of the site to understand the original use of each structure found, in order to have an idea of the lives and activities carried out by the original inhabitants of the place. Digging will then be started, and the research will be widened and extended.

Finally, exhibition windows will be prepared to contain the finds from Castellaro di Pignone and display and educational panels will also be prepared.


The territory of the Municipality of Pignone borders with that of Monterosso and Vernazza, the most western municipalities of the Cinque Terre. This coastal area, a Unesco World Heritage since 1997, is part of the Cinque Terre national park and offers unforgettable landscapes with colourful villages that go down to the sea, cliffs and terracing where olives and grapes are grown, the basis for producing famous white wine, from Vermentino to the dessert wine Sciacchetrà.

The trekking route that goes from Monterosso, passing through Vernazza, Corniglia and Manarola, to Riomaggiore, is one of the most spectacular in the whole of Liguria, and every year it attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world.

The path that cuts through the woods overlooks a wild cost and, in the last stretch, is called Via dell’Amore (The road of love), the most suggestive stretch of the whole route.


Potatoes are traditionally grown in Pignone and they carry the name of the town. Usually harvested during the first fifteen days of August, they are grown with the typical tools of rural tradition.

As far back as can be remembered, potatoes have always been grown in Pignone and they are always greatly appreciated for their quality. During the Second World War the women of Pignone went to the seashores (on the coast) with a basket on their head to sell the potatoes and trade them with salt and oil.
All the traditional dishes have potatoes as their main ingredient: potato cake, potato bread, and meat and stockfish comedà.

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