Castle of Torriglia
Comune di Torriglia: via Municipio, 16 - Torriglia (GE)
Telefono: Cooperativa Castello della Pietra 349 49 86 659
Il castello Il castello Un'antica rappresentazione del castello Un'antica rappresentazione del castello Il castello Il castello Il castello Il castello Il castello Il castello Il castello e il panorama su Torriglia Il castello e il panorama su Torriglia

"Visit Torriglia Castle and listen to the Liguria Heritage audio-guides to relive a story of German emperors and worried abbots, free commoners and aristocratic merchants, simple peasants and princes that are at this point behind in History".

The origins

The first information we have of Torriglia dates back to 972 but it is not about its castle. In that year Emperor Otto I also granted possession of the court of Torriglia to the abbey of Bobbio.
Thanks to this document we know that Torriglia was a “curtis”, therefore a series of plots of land probably with a small village in the centre. It was considered strategic by the abbey of Bobbio, which on the other hand controlled practically all the crossroads between the Tyrrhenian sea and the Po Valley of East and Central Liguria. We also know that a castle probably did not exist yet or, even better, no longer existed.

Visit Torriglia Castle and listen to the Torriglia audioguide 1 . We will take you back in the Summer of 972 AD, to Sant’Ambrogio in Milan, where you will discover the importance of that document for the story of Torriglia, and why the castle is no more.

Between Emperors and Popes

Torriglia and its castle reappear from the depths of history two centuries later, in 1153, when this time it is Pope Anastasio IV who granted to another abbot, Gandolfo of the Monastery of San Marziano in Tortona, confirmation of all the rights on the monastery of Patrania with its annexes, among which the castle of Torriglia. Documentary evidence now appears for the first time in the story.

It was the years of Frederick Barbarossa and the Communes, the fight with the papacy and the Crusades, while the nearby Genoa dominated the seas and commerce, but has not yet shown itself in upper Trebbia Valley.
Gandolfo, therefore, tried to make the Tortona assets safe, but the wind of History blew again even in the high central Apennines, and the Genoese soon reached the castle of Torriglia.

Visit the Torriglia castle and listen to the Torriglia audioguide 2. You will be transported to the Roman municipality in the dominion of Arnaldo da Brescia, and you will discover what the castle looked like just before Frederick Barbarossa entered Italy to crush the ambitions of the rebellious municipalities, while Genoa transported goods and Crusades.

In the Fieschi world

In just a few decades the history of our castle was destined to change. It’s as if the coast, with its history and families, entered the castle for the first time to occupy it. It is 1180. The Malaspinas , a family from the Levante Riviera, are owners of the castle. History does not explain how it came into their possession, maybe they bought it? The Malaspinas manage the castle directly against their will, because evidently too far from their territorial roots, but grant it in management. In spite of this, investments were never lacking and the castle grew in size. The family strengthened the northern tower and increased the circuit of the walls.
Probably at the time of the Malaspinas the castle occupied the whole spur on which it still stands.

After eighty years, the distant Malaspina dominion ended in 1252. The castle was passed on again. This time it was different however, this time it was no longer a case of distant monasteries in the Po Valley or a distracted family that desired to remain in Lunigiana more than anywhere else.
This time, Torriglia castle became the property of a family that had already for centuries been following the history of Liguria, but which in the 13th century reached the summit of power and influence.

It was the Fieschi family, self-nominated as Counts of Lavagna. It was Nicolò Fieschi who purchased the castle from the Malaspina family, precisely in the years in which Sinibaldo Fieschi was Pope Innocenzo IV. Under the Fieschi family the Castle of Torriglia grew definitively, already from the 13th century, and was taken from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age. Up to the tragic, extremely important, 1547.

At first, the Fieschis reinforced the Malaspina castle, adding many structures, then with the arrival of firearms the wall structures were adapted to the new requirements.
In the 16th century the castle took on the shape of a ship, very strange, and which can still be seen today.

The Fieschi family, which twice gave a pope to Christianity, and which traditionally took the Guelph side in the city of Genoa, have their centre of power on the hill in Carignano, but the various fortifications in the Apennines were always useful as a safe refuge if not as a citadel during any attempt of attack. As in 1398, when Antonio Fieschi with three hundred armed men tried to challenge the administrative centre starting from Torriglia castle, he was sent running to the uplands of the Trebbia valley by Raffaele Adorno.
Torriglia and its castle became the centre of a small and well-defended fief, with the desire to forcefully confirm the survival of a great lineage.

Decades passed and the castle remained well anchored to the life of the Fieschi lineage which used it, just like others, with an intelligent balance between distance, when in the city the things went well, and safe refuge, when instead it was better to take care of one’s interests without remaining for too long in the eye of the storm. The Middle Ages ended in the 16th century but Genoa, thanks to Doria and Fieschi, reconquered an important role in the European panorama.
Soon the Fieschis felt the full weight of the importance of Andrea Doria and his personality. They tried to free themselves with the tragic attempt of 1547.

Visit the Torriglia Castle and listen to the Torriglia audioguide 3 . You will discover the story of the last great Fieschi and the role of the castle in the family affairs of the 16th century.

End of the Fieschi era

With the defeat of 1547, in which all the assets of the Fieschis were confiscated and ceded to the Doria family, even our castle of Torriglia passed into their dominion.

A new period opens for it, lasting two and a half centuries, during which it became more a dwelling that a fortress, and also became the seat of the Marquisate (immediately) and Principality (later, in 1760).

It was the period when the castle was at its most splendid, with several floors, and with the ground floor even hosting a mint.
In 1731 the castle had 75 rooms.

Just a few years later, under the pressure of the French Revolution, there was a sad epilogue: under a revolutionary impetus, the commoners of Torriglia stormed the castle and destroyed the symbol of a secular feudal dominion. The castle took on its current aspect.

Visit the Torriglia Castle and listen to the Torriglia audioguide 4. You will discover the “princely” castle of the Doria family and find out about its tragic end.

The intervention

The castle had already been subject to restoration work in the recent past, but when problems arose during the renovation that were initially unforeseeable, requiring a need to intervene with suitable solutions, this impeded the completion of the restoration work originally envisaged.

Thanks to the funds made available by the Development of the natural and cultural resources of Liguria project (Level 4 of Por Fesr 2007-2013), it was possible to complete the restoration work that had remained unfinished, producing the final layout originally envisaged and allowing the complete use of this building.

The work that concluded the restoration project focused on the bastions of the east and west facades of the curtain wall, with cleaning/clearing work extended to include wall features, the area surrounded by the curtain wall, the final stretch of road leading up to the building, the open spaces belonging to the castle immediately surrounding the curtain wall, the tower and the ring-shaped courtyard (the ambulacrum).

At the same time, the building was equipped with fixtures and fittings for displaying artefacts and documents, as well as all the equipment required to hold theatre performances, cultural events and fairs.

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