The first official document recording the existence of the Castle dates back to 1025, when it was founded by Alberto Pallavicino. Built as a military fortress, the castle was part of a major system of defence devised by the Pallavicino family to protect and control their feudal estate, which extended over a vast area between the municipalities and the dioceses of Parma, Piacenza and Cremona, from the river Po to the Apennines. Legend has it that the Castle takes its name from a pre-existing Roman villa built by relatives of Scipio Aemilianus, the General who destroyed Carthage.
In 1267, during the feudal struggles between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, the Castle was attacked several times by Piacenza and subsequently, in 1403 and 1407, by the Guelph Rossi, Da Correggio and Terzi families. In 1447, the Castle was rebuilt and transformed by the brothers Lodovico and Giovanni Pallavicino, who upgraded its defences in response to the needs of the day. The new round tower and the reinforced, battered parapets, designed to be less vulnerable to attacks employing the new firearms of the age, date from that period.
Also from that period is the cramped prison that remains in its original condition. Other major works were undertaken around the middle of the 17th century, including the addition of the elegant loggia overlooking the surrounding hills, a grand doorway surmounted by the family crest leading to the main courtyard, and inside the castle, frescos and ornately decorated coffered ceilings. In some rooms, the ancient medieval ceilings are still visible, with their original decorations, tender garlands, flowers and crests that tell of distant eras.
It’s possible to make guided tours of the Castle.
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