Castle of Santo Stefano d'Aveto
Comune di Santo Stefano d'Aveto: piazza del Popolo, 1 - Santo Stefano d'Aveto (GE)
Telefono: 0185 88 007
Il castello Il castello

Let yourself be guided by Liguria Heritage around the Medieval villages and castles of Liguria and you will see that even within the land that falls under Genoa there are many places you can visit.  Santo Stefano d'Aveto is one of these villages, part of the valley with the same name, located in an alpine basin at about 1000 metres above sea level. Listen to our audio-guides to discover the different sides of its story!

A village between the sea and the plain

Inhabited since prehistoric times, Santo Stefano d’Aveto was preferred for development because of its geographical position, in contact with different local groups, among which the population of the antique Ligurians.

Santo Stefano, which had been managed by the monks of San Colombano during the Lombard period was, in the 12th century, ceded by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa to the Malaspina lineage.  The family members decided to protect its property in the region with fortified buildings and castles, as in the case of the Malaspina castle which we can still see today visiting this splendid village immersed in nature. Only towards the end of the 15th century, in 1495, did the village pass to the Fieschi family which, to give continuity to their property in the area, maintained dominion until 1547.

1547 was the year of the Fieschi defeat. From that date the name, reputation and so-called “Fieschi state” were involved in a trail of revenge by the Dorias and the Republic of Genoa, from which it was impossible to recover.

Santo Stefano was merged with the property of the Doria family, therefore with the Republic of Genoa until 1649 when it moved to the Doria descendants, represented by the Doria Pamphilj lineage which originated from the union between Giovanni Andrea III Doria and Anna Pamphilj.  Unfortunately the new owners managed the fief badly, which caused the population to rise up and kill their Lords, even though this episode did not stop the Dorias from holding its dominion over Santo Stefano until 1797, the year when the Imperial fiefs were abolished.

A village with a story woven into the Fliscan story, but not a part of it. Listen to the audioguide 1 and adventure into the beginnings of human history in search of clues about the first time this land was frequented!

The Castle

In addition to visiting an enchanting town for its geographical position and the mountain activities that can be done, visiting Santo Stefano d'Aveto means having the possibility of admiring a castle in excellent condition, so we can truly understand the dynamics of a Medieval village.

It seems to have been dropped from on high into the centre of the basin at the base of mount Maggiorasca such is the perfect harmony between its structure and the surrounding environment. The position of the castle was instead intelligently chosen because it allowed control of the roads which, crossing the Apennines, led to Emilia. Some sources date the construction to a period before the 12th century, but unfortunately we do not have enough documentation to confirm this date, even though remains of the original structure have been found. These remains are probably from the renewal that was carried out during the 15th century when the castle was a fundamental control point for the Po roads.

The castle that presents itself now is an interesting pentagonal structure with ramparts on four of the five perimetral corners. In ancient times the arms square could be reached, an area onto which the different rooms on the ground floor open, using drawbridges that were easy to lift in case of attacks.

Some documents come to our aid for the period after the 16th century however. These documents were found in the State Archive of Parma and thanks to them it is possible to speculate on the existence of a castrum, namely a fortified construction for warning or defence. In addition, it seems that the Lords Malaspina had a “domus” for the village administration operations, namely a residential home and a defence tower to control the traffic going to and coming from Lombardy or Emilia. This castrum, which was merged over time into the dominions of the Republic of Genoa, no longer in its original form but already equipped with a ravelin that simplified defence, was then restructured into the shape we can now enjoy.

A castle, the events of which are surrounded by a sort of mystery because of the lack of documents that speak of it. This is the story of Santo Stefano d'Aveto castle. Visit it and, thanks to the audioguide 2 you can listen to its story!

The intervention

After a series of initial improvements designed to restore the exterior perimeter walls and parts of the inside walls, the castle’s restoration – funded as part of the Development of the natural and cultural resources of Liguria project (Level 4 of Por Fesr 2007-2013) – continued with stratigraphic excavations aimed at uncovering the interiors as well as strengthening and repairing some of the architectural features that had partly collapsed.

Apart from the work done on the rooms known as the Granaro and Cavallerizza (as well as the jail), the area that – according to plans drawn up by Gio. Batta Argenta – would have been the site of ‘a room set up as a bank of reckoning’, near the keep and the northern wall’s exterior, was also successfully excavated.

All excavations, which were supervised by the government’s heritage department, were carried out by hand and particular attention was paid to the conservation of all archaeological material recovered through sifting (which will be salvaged and catalogued), as well as surviving engraved stone tablets and fragments of engraved stone.

At the same time, all the work necessary to reinforce the east wall was carried out and completed, an area that had suffered water damage due to the existence of an ancient stream whose course had been diverted when the castle was built.

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