Castle of Montoggio
Comune di Montoggio: Via IV Novembre, 18 - Montoggio (GE)
Telefono: 010 93 79 31
Il castello Il castello Il castello Il castello L'accesso alla parte inferiore L'accesso alla parte inferiore Il castello Il castello Una della torri Una della torri L'accesso al piano nobile L'accesso al piano nobile Il piano nobile Il piano nobile Un dettaglio del piano nobile Un dettaglio del piano nobile La passerella che porta a una delle torri La passerella che porta a una delle torri

The origins

Montoggio and its Castle began their road through history in 1157 when Mount Obblum, as it was called in ancient times, was indicated together with the castles of Savignone, Padrania and others in the uplands of the Scrivia Valley, in a document where it is confirmed by Pope Adrian IV that they were part of the property of Oberto, the Bishop of Tortona.
On 30th April 1198, however, Pope Innocent III confirmed the property as belonging to the diocese of Tortona, indicating Montoggio as being one of the boundary terminals with the Archdiocese of Genoa.

The idea of “marking a boundary” is essential for understanding the importance of these castles.  Their position on the road between Genoa and the Po area, the possibilities of commerce that were imaginable, and their importance from a strategic-military viewpoint made these military posts a tasty morsel for the divided laic and religious political realities of the area. Above all Genoa never abandoned the idea of expanding into the Oltregiogo; we are at the beginning of the 13th century, more precisely 07th January 1215, when the Genoese granted the citizenry to a certain Oberto de Montobii.
From this moment onwards the village and the castle from the 13th century became part of Genoa’s history, in some circumstances being a friend, in others being a menace, just like the times of the Fieschi domination, when the pressure that poured into the city from the Apennines was enough to destabilize it. 

The Fieschi dominions

Montoggio became part of the territories controlled by the Counts of Lavagna, who started becoming involved to antagonise Ansalde De Mari. Ansaldo, an admiral of Frederick II and enemy of Pope Innocent IV, in that period Sinibaldo Fieschi, had in fact bought half of Montoggio castle from Opizzo di Montoggio in 1232. We do not know for sure what conditions brought Montoggio into the Fieschi lineage, but we do know that in 1386 Antonio Fieschi was lord not only of the castle but also of many fiefs among which Torriglia, Pontremoli, Borgo Val di Taro, Calestano, Vigolone, and others, all lands of great strategic importance for the business and diplomatic relations they could be involved in. From this moment onwards the fief, in a predominant position and together with Torriglia, continued following the events of what is defined as the state of the Fieschis.
We are at the threshold of the 15th century, a century that sees the Fieschi lineage busy opposing different fronts such as Milan, Florence and Genoa itself. Montoggio encounters a period of occupation, such as in 1430 thanks to Nicolò Piccinino on behalf of the Duke of Milan and also following transfer to Giacomo Giustiniani.

After years of division of the fiefs of the Fieschi state, it was Gian Luigi the Great who united all the territories in virtue of the ordination obtained on 01st December 1495 by the emperor Maximilian I. The final phase in the life of this castle begins, but also its use as a dwelling by its lords. It is enlarged, the military equipment is improved and it underwent many other changes that improved its structure.
The final phases in the life of the castle coincids with the final phase of its lineage, which does nothing other than suffer the consequences and embrace the same destiny.

These are years of great turmoil in the Fieschi relationship with the various citizen powers, indeed the Fieschis would never suit being second in the city. The last three examples of this come from the last three owners of Montoggio castle; Gian Luigi, Sinibaldo, and Gian Luigi Fieschi, being the grandfather, son and grandson who were in search of undisputed power in the city.

Between the end of the 15th and start of the 16th centuries, the revolt of the cappette (lower class people) began, partially because of the attempt of Gian Luigi Fieschi to remove the Adorno family from power using the support of the French. The only result this obtained was to create a people’s revolution and to spread hatred for the Fieschis, and more in general the nobles, throughout the city.
In 1522, not even fifteen years after the first attempt to obtain power, the sons of Gian Luigi, Sinibaldo and Ottobono, together with the Marquis of Pescara and Prospero Colonna, raided Genoa for three long days.

Doria dominated, Fieschi plotted

Andrea Doria reformed the government starting from 1528, centring the power in the hands of the 28 biggest families of the city, and from which the members of the Major and Minor Council were selected. This ended much of the unruliness that was present, and Genoa managed for a while to live in a state of “apparent” peace. Even for Andrea Doria, managing the city was not a bowl of cherries. He was pressed on the one side by the Spanish emperor who longed for greater control over Genoa, and on the other he tried to keep the representatives of the noble families in good stead, entrusting the most eminent people with important diplomatic charges. This, however brought the decline of the Fieschis, because Sinibaldo, who had been entrusted with a large number of charges, paid everything with his own money thinking it would be advantageous to his family. Upon his death, the family was led by Maria della Rovere who, finding herself short of money because of the excessive profusion of her husband towards the Government, was forced to withdraw to Montoggio castle, where life had decidedly more contained rhythms and costs.
This was not, however, a condition that could be accepted by a member of a prestigious family. She therefore began hinting to her oldest son, Gian Luigi, that it was his duty to get back everything that the Dorias had taken from their family, in terms of prestige and richness, even using force if necessary.

This is what started planning of the conspiracy, together with the envy that young Gian Luigi felt for the Doria heir, Giannettino, guilty maybe of only managing to obtain everything that the Fieschis desired ardently for themselves without the minimum of effort, and maybe also because of the anti Doria pressure of some people Gian Luigi associated with, such as Verrina, famous for his contempt of the new nobility that had taken power in Genoa.
But it was not just a personal matter or envy between descendants. Looking at the event from a different viewpoint we realise that the powers in play had larger proportions than those of the fight between Fieschi and Doria. They were, in fact, symbols of the contrasts that existed between France and Spain, Piero Strozzi and Cosimo de Medici, Pope Paul III and Charles V, all involved in plotting conspiracies or trying to thwart them. This is how Montoggio Castle became the crossroads of an important “international” crisis.

We have now reached the night of 02nd January 1547, the date on which Gian Luigi decided to put his plan into action. Things would have gone as planned if his accidental death, which occurred not long after he arrived at the dock, had not started panic among the plotters and their resulting dispersion to flee from the anger of Prince Andrea Doria. Even some representatives of the Fieschi family left the city, all except one, Gerolamo Fieschi, the second-born of Maria and Sinibaldo. After having obtained the guarantee that his life would be safe, he withdrew with some of his people to Montoggio castle, a place in which he still felt safe just like when he went there with his family as a young boy. But it was not yet over.
The government had accepted his surrender only because Andrea Doria was not in the city and because, not having found the body of Gian Luigi, it was suspected that he was still alive. When the body was found on the harbour and the prince returned from Masone angry about the death of his grandson, everything collapsed relentlessly.
Agostino Spinola was ordered to move with an army to destroy Montoggio castle, while in the city it was decided the Fieschi lands would pass to the Dorias and that the mansion in Via Lata and the others in Carignano would be razed. This is how the chapter on the Fieschi family ends, and Montoggio castle shared with them the tragic epilogue, becoming the ruins we can see.

The intervention

At the turn of this century, a park of archaeological and environmental importance, capable of hosting cultural and recreational events, was set up exactly where the ruins of Fieschi castle are located.
The aim was to create the best conditions to allow public enjoyment of the site, both in terms of its historic importance and its high environmental and landscape value.

Thus, as well as becoming an open-air museum, the ruins of the castle could become a potential research and information centre recording the stages that led to an emblematic case – the castle’s destruction in a history of sieges – and the ideal reconstruction of a unique fortress/settlement whose fortunes had an enormous influence on the history of the Republic of Genoa.

However, the financial resources used to carry out the first stage of renovation work in 2004 and 2005 were not enough to complete the project, though it did lead to the complete use of a large part of the area.

The aim of the restoration work envisaged as part of the Development of the natural and cultural resources of Liguria project (Level 4 of Por Fesr 2007-2013) is to make the entire property usable through a series of actions. There are plans to clear weeds and remove inert materials so as to uncover other parts of the building or features in general.
There are also plans to restore any artefacts that come to light, to manage forest vegetation around the edge of the ruins, extend the tourist itinerary by carrying out the proper improvements to ensure access in total safety and to complete work aimed at flattening the ground level area in the last short section of road leading up to the ruins.

Nota: Liguria Heritage freely offers services and technological tools but accepts no responsibility for entrance fees to the sites nor their direct management. Please refer to the individuals owners and managers regarding the implementation or changes to entry times, conditions of use and accessibility of the various sites.