Castello di Castelguelfo

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The castle of Castelguelfo is a medieval manor that rises along the Via Emilia in Castelguelfo , part of the municipality of Noceto , in the province of Parma.

The first fortification, probably consisting of a single defensive tower, was built before the 12th century to guard the strategic ford of the Via Emilia on the Taro river , which flowed near the building in the Middle Ages. The certain period of construction is still unknown, just as the first owner of the building is unknown.

In 1189 the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa invested the Marquis Oberto I Pallavicino with the castle of Castelguelfo, known then as Burgo Taronis .

In 1212 the feud was bought by the bishop Obizzo Fieschi , who was succeeded in 1224 by his nephew Sinibaldo, future Pope Innocent IV , who renamed the manor "Sinibaldo's Tower" and had it reinforced, with the addition of walls and towers defensive.

For a further two centuries, the castle changed hands as the power ebbed and flowed.

In 1407 the Guelph Ottobuono de' Terzi attacked the fortress, seizing it; to further underline the defeat of the adverse Ghibellines, he renamed the castle Castrum Guelphum , i.e. Castelguelfo, restructured the walls and replaced the eagles painted on the battlements with lilies. In 1409, following the assassination of Ottobuono and the capture of Giovanni, his brother Giacomo Terzi , who had found refuge in the manor, fled to Borgo San Donnino and then to Fiorenzuola , where he was captured and killed; Castelguelfo castle was then besieged and occupied by Alberto Scotti(1). The following year Orlando Pallavicino kidnapped the bishop of Piacenza Branda Castiglioni and released him upon payment of a ransom in cash, which he intended to use to attack the manor; however, in April Captain Ferro da San Felice, who had already attempted an assault the previous year, captured the castle on behalf of the Marquis of Ferrara Niccolò III d'Este, who in 1416 he commissioned Uguccione dei Contrari to deliver it to Gian Martino Sanvitale, as a reward for the loss of the fortress of Noceto.

A century later, in 1643 Odoardo I Farnese assigned the fiefdom to the minister Giacomo Gaufridi, who held it until his death sentence decreed by Ranuccio II Farnese in 1650. The Duke then assigned the fortress to the duke of Poli Apio Conti; in 1666 the castle returned to the Ducal Chamber of Parma and Ranuccio II invested it with the Marquis of Vigoleno Odoardo Scotti; his heirs maintained the feudal rights over Castelguelfo until their abolition sanctioned by the Napoleonic decrees of 1805.

In 1815 the marquis Filippo Maria Scotti alienated the castle to Felice Bernini Carra, who in 1827 resold it to the baron Gaetano Testa; the latter in the following years had the interior of the manor decorated with numerous paintings and had the large English garden that still surrounds the fortress built.

The castle develops on a square plan, around the central courtyard, with two towers on the north side and others in the center of the east and south elevations; to the south and east is the large park with lake and to the west of this, around the large courtyard, rise the numerous outbuildings, originally intended for greenhouses, stables and a mill, as well as the 19th-century oratory.

Access to the complex is represented by the large round arch opened in the ancient ravelin, located east of the castle towards the Via Emilia; the building, crowned by dovetail battlements, is flanked by a neo-Gothic style construction, built as a gatehouse.

The fortress, entirely clad in brick, faces north with a high facade flanked by two corner towers; the prospectus is characterized by the presence of numerous corbels with machicolations, in support of the ancient covered walkways. Analogous architectural elements also continue along the other fronts, of which the southern one, rearranged at the beginning of the 20th century, is preceded by a central entrance tower; the two corners project onto the adjacent sides, of which the western one opens towards the park through another tower in the middle.

1.  I am not certain if this is the 'great political adventurer'  Alberto Scotto, lord of Piacenza, who died in prison in Crema in January 1318, but it seems likely.

See also:

•  The Douglas family in Italy portal
•  Alberto Scotto, Lord of Piacenza



Sources for this article include:
  • Ireneo Affò , History of the city of Parma

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    Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024