The Castello della Pietra is a true architectural masterpiece
The place is immersed in the lush surroundings of the Antola's regional natural park and it’s now in the heart of a protected area rich in fauna and flora.
Nestled between two scenic turrets of solidified mud, the building is a perfect example of symbiosis with nature, as it dominates the narrow valley below ‘mingling’ with it.
According to local legends, the structure would have been built by the Devil itself because it offers a remarkable visual impact in all its splendor and its realization was certainly hard (close to impossible) in those ancient times.
By visiting the place, one can take a look at the documents related to its history. A figurative path inside the building illustrates the history of the fortress, while a permanent exhibition presented on the boards and prints in the mansion’s halls describe similar architectural buildings in the surrounding valleys.
View of the lush valley underneath
According to the many documents on display, it seems it was built around the year 1000 by the Bishops of Tortona (from a nearby town), with the aim of offering protection to the valley road down below that already connected Liguria to the Tuscan region.
The road that enters the gorge excavated by the Vobbia river was then abandoned following the Treaty of Campoformio at the end of the 18th century, which sanctioned the end of the feudal era.
Later, perhaps around the year 1050, the castle was bought by the Marquis of Gavi and subsequently by the important noble family of the Malaspina who lived here, transforming the fortress into a noble palace.
These lands belonging to the Marquis of Gavi from the Middle Ages were theaters of clashes with the nearby Republic of Genoa and the dispute was not resolved until the 1300 when these lands were seized by some Genoese noble families.
The Castle is now part of a protected area
The building was finally donated to the municipality of Genoa in 1979 and it has been an attraction since the end of the ‘80s, right after the Province of Genoa performed some conservation and restoration works, the first of which aimed at blocking the progressive decay of the structure, demolishing the remains and recovering the archaeological findings found during the excavations carried out by the High Valley Center for Historical Studies.
It was finally opened to the public in 1994 and, subsequently, the wooded area around the castle became a protected regional park with hiking paths and picnic areas. Now the castle and its interior spaces are fully accessible: tanks, fireplaces, stairs, guard sites, walkways and the large central hall that occasionally becomes the protagonist of theater performances, concerts, fairs and exhibitions.
Used for special events such as ceremonies thanks to its amazing location and panorama and used for holidays like Halloween for its mysterious history, the castle has come back to life after years of abandonment and decay.
View of the Antola region and surrounding valleys
The troubled events related to its history can be followed during guided tours that recall it the splendor and the subsequent degradation that culminated with the fire carried out by the French troops and the fusion of its cannons, whose bronze was used for the bells of the nearby church of Crocefieschi. The guides leading the tours here are only volunteers who come from Genoa to be a part of this miracle rebirth.
One can easily reach the castle after walking for about 20 minutes on a beautiful wooded path in the Antola Natural Park, which dates back to the 11th century when the road connecting Liguria to Tuscany was used for the salt trade.
View of the castle from the hiking trail