Photo ©Giorgio Freschi
Historical sites

Malaspina Castle in Fosdinovo

In Lunigiana there's an amazing medieval castle steeped in history

Via Papiriana, 2
This Castle of medieval origins is one of the best preserved in Lunigiana and it played an important role in a feud belonging to the Malaspina family from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century. The construction of the massive fortress merges with the underlying sandstone rock so that the whole structure seems carved out of the earth.
 
Built for defense, in 1340 the castle was officially ceded by the Noble family of Fosdinovo to the warlord Spinetta Malaspina who created the Marquisate of Fosdinovo and lived in the castle for the rest of his life.

In the sixteenth century, Gabriele and then Lorenzo Malaspina added the Renaissance courtyard while in the seventeenth century, under Jacopo Malaspina, the castle was enlarged. The basic design of the Castle of Fosdinovo consists of a square with four round towers, a semicircular rampart, two internal courtyards, a central courtyard, patrol trenches above the roof, hanging gardens, galleries and an ancient defensive wall. Once protected by a drawbridge, the main gateway enters into a thirteenth century Romanesque style courtyard, which is framed by marble columns supporting overhead arcades. From this small courtyard, where guns were once kept at the ready to defend the castle, a broad flight of stairs rises leading to a large central courtyard.
Fosdinovo Castle - Credit: Davide Papalini
The courtyard boasts an elegant Renaissance porch with stone columns, a well and a beautiful sixteenth-century marble portal leading to interior rooms of the castle, decorated and painted before 1800. Next is the entrance hall, the dining room with a large fireplace and seventeenth century ceramics, the throne room, the great hall and the room of ‘trabocchetto’ (the trap-door room) with a torture room lying below. It is said that the evil marchioness Cristina Pallavicini, used to kill her lovers by surprising them with a trap door located at the foot of the bed, dropping them into the dungeon or torture room. Trapdoors such as this were common in the castle. There were three of these traps, two in the veranda close to the garden and one in a corner-tower. Underneath them there were sharp knives with the blades pointing upwards, so sharp that when someone fell through a trapdoor they were dropped immediately to their death. In addition to these terrible instruments of torture and death, there was another even more terrible. It was a kind of iron arm that jutted from the wall of the tower with a pulley and a ring connected by a rope. The victim was tortured and then left to hang before the whole town until they were dead.

The oldest east tower, is known as the "Dante chamber” where, according to tradition, the great poet slept when he was a guest at the castle during his period of exile. The frescoes in the grand central hall depict the solid friendship between Dante and the Malaspina family.
 
The visit around the Castle continues upstairs among countless other furnished rooms and along the exterior walkway above the roof which offers a stunning panoramic view.
 
Fosdinovo
A FORTIFIED TOWN THAT DOMINATES THE PLAINS OF VAL DI MAGRA AND LUNI
Fosdinovo is an age-old town that for centuries has served as a gateway to the historic Lunigiana region, an area whose highlands dominate the Val di Magra plains and the town of Luni. From the town’s streets to the hill’s ridges, this area exudes the air of a borderland: here you’ll sense both the ocean and mountains, while its cuisine serves as the best example of its hybrid nature, a real ...
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