Virginia Oldoini. Does this name mean anything to you? The Countess of Castiglione. Does that sound more familiar?
We thought it might, but for those who may not know her story, Virginia was one of the most courted women of the Risorgimento: educated, elegant, a natural prodigy who was soon commissioned by her cousin, the Count of Cavour, to go on a rather delicate diplomatic mission: to bring Napoleon III back to Italian reason. Though we’re not sure how close she came to being an intimate friend of the emperor, she did surely conquer the French, becoming a sought-after guest of the best parlors in Paris.
Few know that Virginia was born in Lunigiana, and even less know the story of her precursor Anna Malaspina di Bastia, whose beauty flared the passion of poets and artists. About a century or so before Virginia, thanks to her relationship with the Prime Minister of France, the Marquis Du Tillot and the intercession of the Jesuits, Anna was also engaged for an impossible mission: to steal the heart of Louis XV and to oust Madame Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, from his bed; she was the King?s favourite, but was hostile to the Jesuits. While political muddles were resolved in the alcoves, it just so happened that a young marquise from Lunigiana, Bastia, was closer to imperial power and to the Paris elite than one could only imagine.
Her Castle, today an impeccably preserved private residence, was one of the many strongholds dotting the road network that moved directly across the Lunigiana towards Tuscany, Emilia Romagna and Liguria. With its square, massive design, four round towers at the corners and its large, central tower, the Bastia Castle controlled those who passed through the Lagastrello Pass, in a hilly position near the village of Licciana Nardi.
As if the fortress’s architectural qualities weren’t enough, the history of its most celebrated resident is certainly worth a visit. When you are a few minutes from Licciana Nardi, we advise that you make a reservation for your visit.
Source: Trame di Lunigiana