High above the village of Gragnola, at the end of step dirt road and silhouetted against the Apuane Alps, is Castello dell’Aquila. It is a testament to the dedication of Gabriella Favero who recently restored the 12th century castle, which fell into disrepair over the centuries, suffered major damage in the 1920 earthquake, and which was almost totally demolished after the war for safety reasons.
The Castle of Aquila was originally built to control the strategic crossroads of Gragnola, located at the confluence of the Aulella and Lucido rivers, through which the medieval convoys passed on their way from Central Europe to Rome. The castle was first inhabited by the Bianchi d’Erberia, then by a couple of dynasties of Fosdinovo Malaspinas, and even briefly by representatives of the Florentine Republic. The castle is linked to the Orsini family as Aurante Orsini, sister-in-law to Lorenzo de Medici,The Magnificent, married the Marquis Leonardo Malaspina of the Castle of Aquila. The wedding took place in the castle’s chapel.
With the help of grants, old photos and a lot of patience, the castle has been lovingly restored. The Great Tower has been rebuilt using stones from the original structure found among a jungle of brambles on the site. During the restorations an intact and extremely well-preserved skeleton of a 14th century knight was found. The knight, who is thought to have been murdered, was killed by a crossbow dart in the back of the throat.
The lovely and infectiously enthusiastic Gabriella runs a guided one hour tour of the castle. Highlights are the restored chapel, and a visit to the Great Tower with its gorgeous views. Expect a lot of information on the famous skeleton, which has become the subject of a number of scientific studies and numerous conferences. The tour is available in both Italian and English.
The castle is frequently closed for private functions and you will need a reservation to get through the castle gates, so please book in advance.
For tour reservations and enquiries:Castello dell’ Aquila Phone: (0039) 0585 99157 Mobile: (0039) 335 6628357/(0039) 389 1643958 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.castellodellaquila.it
First photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
The Castle of Aquila, Gragnola appeared on Ciao Lunigiana on 24 January 2012. All rights reserved.