The origins of Malgrate Castle date back to the 14th Century, when the Malgrate feud was established by the Malaspina family. Upon the death of Niccolò I Malaspina, the Marquis of Filattiera, his five children divided up the feud, and Malgrate went to Bernabò.
His dynasty would go on to control it for seven generations, until the last Marquis, Cesare II, up to his eyes in debt and with no male heirs, was forced to sell the feud to the Ducal House of Milan. It was the second decade of the 17th Century. In 1641 it was sold for 70,000 ecus to the Marquis Ariberti from Cremona, who transformed the castle into a stately home.
Years ago, the feud was a victim of power play between the Republic of Florence and the Duchy of Milan. Both were more than interested in the strategic control of Lunigiana, but neither were strong enough to go unscathed in the balancing acts between the two Signorias. The Malaspinas proved not to be very good tightrope walkers, as we can see from the two violent retaliations they endured over a 12-year period, first from the Republic of Florence, then from the Viscontis.
The cylindrical tower made of sandstone – 25 meters high – remains to tell of its military past, as part of the defensive line of the left bank of the Magra River. This line included the Bagnone, Treschietto and Comano Castles, which resemble each other for their swallow-tailed crenellations. The tower had a door above ground level that could be accessed with retractable stairs, and still displays six rooms with vaulted ceilings, one above the other, whose exact date of construction is uncertain.
In addition to the tower, which was most likely built in the mid-1300s, in the days of Bernabò Malaspina, we may recognize a building with a Medieval, rectangular layout, as well as an external curtain built by the Cremona family in the 17th Century, with a defensive system which, by that time, was conceived for firearms.
The castle was abandoned during the 1800s; uninhabited, it was a farm shed for many years. Today it is open to the public during the summer, as well as for the famous Living Nativity Scene in December. We recommend a walk around the battlements and a visit to the central tower.
Source: Trame di Lunigiana