Monti Castle

photos by Silvio Spediacci

Monti rise in the Taverone river valley, it can be reached from the exit 'Aulla' of the A15 Motoway following the 'SS della Cisa' towards Licciana Nardi.

The legend says that on the site of Monti, on the right bank of the Taverone river, precisely near the ancient Parish church, rose a city destroyed at the middle of 7th century by the Longobards during their invasion of Italy [the legend of Venelia]. Just on the left of ancient Parish church start the road that leads to the Castle. The fortification is located on the top of the hill from which we can enjoy a splendid view on the underlying valley. The actual aspect of Monti is due to the restoration undertaken after the 1920's earthquake

Even if is quiet sure that on the site rose a previous 12th century fortification having functions of obstruction of the important road located at the bottom of the valley [a main branchs of the Francigena Road, used mainly for the transit of the goods between Parma and Sarzana ] the presence of Monti castle is documented only from the 1275. For a long time of the high Middle Age all the zone comprised between the torrents Taverone and Civeglia was fief of the Moregnano Counts. In 1355 the whole area became possession of the powerful family Malaspina di Villafranca and at the beginning of 15th century it was an independent fief under the marquises Simone and Nicola

Attacked and conquered by the Genoese troops in 1449, Monti remained 14 years under the lordship of the Campofregoso of Genoa. When it returned to the Malaspina were immediately undertaken works of widening and strengthening of the castle's fortifications. In the 16th century Monti was incorporated in the district area of marquis Spinetta Malaspina together with Licciana Nardi, Panicale, Bastia, Terrarossa, Poedenzana and Suvero. After 24 years of peace the castle was stormed from the Florentine leader Giovanni dalle Bande Nere. Returned again to the Malaspina, at the dead of Spinetta in 1638, the fief was dismembered and Monti became part of the Granduchy of Tuscany.

The castle has the shape of irregular rectangle, from the northwest angle rise up the powerful square keep still equipped with stone brackets that supported the machicolation [visible also on great part of the walled curtain]. The other angles are reinforced with circular towers of various dimensions, in the walls of the greatest of those, the southeast one, is located the main gate, once gifted of leaning bridge. On the whole perimeter are still clearly readable the Ghibellines battlements [with the classic 'tail of swallow' form] although the parapet was completely filled with stones in order to allow the wide roof to lean on it. The castle is surrounded by a forest of secular holm oaks, on the northern side the great meadow that we see today was quiet sure the external courtyard, protected from walls today disappeared. Also the underlying village conserve traces of its ancient fortifications, above all the western gate. The castle of Monti still belongs to the descendants of marquises Malaspina who use it as summer residence. Is visible only from the outside.

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