You can reach it by a steep road through the woods, just after the village of Gragnola. Nothing, not even the beautiful view from the bottom of the valley, could prepare you for the magnificent sight of the Castel dell’Aquila -Eagle’s Castle when you arrive at the crest of the hill: a monumental fortification, recently renovated thanks to a restoration that is, to say the least, heroic.
We are in the territory of Fivizzano, in eastern Lunigiana. The Pizzo d’Uccello – Bird’s Peak is behind us, a spectacular background that will leave you breathless; an enviable geographic position, once under the domain of Gragnola, a crucial point for communications passing from Central Europe to Rome, a confluence for the Aulella and Lucido torrents. Two great dynasties lived here, both from the Malaspina line of Fosdinovo: the first originated from Galeotto of Fosdinovo in the 14th Century, the second from Lazzaro, the son of Antonio Alberico, Marquis of Fosdinovo, whose lineage was extinguished in the first half of the 17th Century.
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY | FALL AND RISE OF THE CASTLE
The 1900s were the dark century for the Castel dell’Aquila, which was damaged by an earthquake in 1920 and by years of neglect, then abandoned after the last owners brought down the tower, which was in ruins, with dynamite. It took two years to clear the brushwood and ten to bring it back to its original majesty. You can hear the story from its owner, the lady of the manor who bought this Medieval derelict building years ago as a pleasant retreat, only to discover a castle hidden by the thick brush.
She can also tell you how, on February 19th, 2004, during restoration work, a tomb came to light with the entire skeleton of a man, a knight from the 1300s – as confirmed by the carbon-14 analysis – who had been killed by a crossbow to the throat. The mystery surrounding his violent death has captivated enthusiasts, historians and forensic scientists, making him a rather famous skeleton.
We highly recommend a visit with the owner: meeting this castle is, above all, discovering its legendary feats.
How do you get there? From Aulla, just follow towards Fivizzano-Reggio Emilia on the Strada Statale n. 63 del Cerreto, and 8 kilometers before Fivizzano, turn right towards Gragnola-Gassano-Equi Terme. As you get closer to Gassano, the castle will already be watching over you from above.
Source: Trame di Lunigiana