The Castello della Pietra or Castello da Pria in Genoese, is an ancient fortification in the municipality of Vobbia and located in the homonymous valley. It is one of the most characteristic monuments of the Ligurian hinterland, perched in a gorge, and is a cultural and scenic attraction in the Antola Park.
Castello della Pietra History
Situated in a picturesque elevated position between two spurs of rocky conglomerate that constitute its natural bastions, it dominates the road that flanks the Vobbia torrent going up the course from Isola del Cantone. The castle can only be reached on foot via a path in the woods, and a staircase, after twenty minutes of suggestive walk starting from the provincial road. It is also possible to visit the castle inside on holidays from Easter Monday to the end of October; and, by agreement with the Antola Park Authority, for groups and parties, even on other working days.
There are not yet sufficient and comprehensive historical records regarding the actual construction date, therefore it was assumed that the construction could be dated back to 1100 or to an earlier date, but as of now the mystery remains.
Some documents of 1252 name the feudal lord Opizzone della Pietra, whose family assumed this name of "della Pietra", precisely because of its connection with the bold fortress. According to the famous Annals of the historic Caffaro di Rustico da Caschifellone already in the thirteenth century the castle had the same structural and architectural characteristics as the present ones and its jurisdiction included the Upper Val Borbera crossing the hill of San Fermo.
Following the death of Guglielmo della Pietra, the castle passed into the ownership of the noble Spinola family until 1518, when it was ceded to the Adorno by testamentary disposition; the will is dated to 7 June 1518 and Tolomeo Spinola's wishes are specified in favor of the brothers Antoniotto and Gerolamo Adorno. Prospero Adorno obtained the official investiture on January 17, 1565 and ten years later (1575) the ownership passed into the hands of his brother Girolamo Adorno. In 1579 it was conquered by some criminals, but was reconquered by Giorgio Centurione on behalf of the Senate of the Republic of Genoa.
In 1620 the emperor Mattia of Habsburg annexed it to the Pallavicino feud in the Borbera valley, thus losing all autonomous jurisdictional power, but constituting until the end of the eighteenth century an enclave among the greatest fiefs of the Fieschi and Spinola families; under his jurisdiction were Torre di Vobbia, Pareto in Val Brevenna and Gordena in Alta Val Borbera. Later it became the property of Botta Adorno. In 1797, French troops arrived in the Apennines and, at the behest of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Feudi Imperiali were suppressed. The manor was thus abandoned by the last charismatic castellan, Michele Bisio, and after a few years it was set on fire thus decreeing its progressive ruin. The bronze of the cannons was taken by the bishop of Tortona and then used for the fusion of the bells of the church of Santa Croce in Crocefieschi.
The ruins of the ancient castle remained however owned by the Botta Adorno until 1882 when it was ceded to the Cusani Visconti family. On May 21, 1919 the owner Luigi Riva Cusani sold it to Giovanni Battista Beroldo di Vobbia. The Beroldo family then donated it to the Municipality of Vobbia in 1979.
Particular and fundamental characteristic for the autonomy of the castle is the cistern dug in the rock at the foot of the "torrione" (natural rocky spur) west, where the rainwater of the roofs were conveyed, also by means of collecting channels dug into the rock, still partly visible; the cistern is next to the central hall under whose floor there is a second cistern.
Since 2008 the castle has been managed by the Antola Park Authority which, through the "Castello della Pietra" Cooperative, organizes guided tours in the period April-October and a program of historical events in the summer period, during which a refreshment point that promotes the typical products of the Park.
The castle is divided into two bodies set at different heights. It is accessed from the avant-corps whose three floors have been restored with a metal grid structure. From the top floor of the avant-corps you pass to the large central hall with a square plan and vaulted ceiling. With the remaking of the roof an attic was restored, reachable both from the central compartment and from the walkway.