The first documents indicating the existence of the Verrucola Castle date back to 1077, when the Emperor Henry IV – who wwnt down to history for the Humiliation of Canossa – granted control of it to the Estensi family. At the dawn of the 12th Century its name was associated with the Bosi family, but numerous dynasties fought for its control, as they were surely interested in controlling the routes crossing the Apennines nearby; if we think about it now, it’s not so odd to see these castles as collection points for the road tolls of an ancient system!
In 1183, the castle fell into the hands of the Malaspina, thanks to the Peace of Costanza signed with Frederick I Barbarossa, and was under the jurisdiction of the Spino Fiorito branch until at least 1312, when it found itself at the centre of a disagreement involving Spinetta Malaspina, known as The Great, and Castruccio Castracani degli Antelminelli, from Lucca. Spinetta had envisaged a great plan for the unification of historic Lunigiana, and believed in the idea of a region under his dominion. But he was defeated again and again, till one day Spinetta met Castruccio, one of the most valiant Condottieri soldiers of the day. And so it was that an epic battle took place, and Castruccio vanquished Spinetta after an incredible siege on the Verrucola Castle. Spinetta the Great had to await Castruccio?s death in order to finally take the castle back, in 1335.
In 1418, Verrucola was the site of a shocking bloodbath, a conspiracy plotted behind the back of the Marquis Bartolomeo Malaspina, who was killed with an axe along with his pregnant wife, the 80-year-old Marquis Niccolò, his children and servants. Only the 20-month-old baby Spinetta survived this massacre, thanks to a heroic nurse. This dramatic event reverberated all the way to Florence, which decided the time had come to intervene and bring eastern Lunigiana back under its sphere of influence. From the end of the 15th Century, the history of the Verrucola Castle fell into decay: it was devastated by an earthquake in 1481 and thus abandoned until the 17th Century, when it became a convent for Augustinian nuns. But it was abandoned once again.
If today the Castle is one of Lunigiana’s most spectacular, we may thank the sculptor Pietro Cascella. An artist raised in a family of artists, Cascella was hailed by critics in the second half of the 1900s, drawing comparisons to Henry Moore, and earned national and international commissions. He began taking care of the Castle at the end of the 1970s; as he recently passed away, it is now owned by his family, and his Castle-Studio can be visited by appointment.
Source: Trame di Lunigiana