The Castle of Gropparello rises on a rocky summit 420 metres above sea level on a cliff overlooking the Vezzeno stream which forms a gorge 85 metres in height.
The strategic position of the castle, surrounded by a double fortification wall with ghibelline crenellations, has made this castle, in the past known as Rocca di Cagnano, practically unassailable throughout the centuries.
The irregular structure adapts itself to the rocky terrain and rises on what was once a roman catrum built in defence of the road to Velleia. Inside the fortress, after the second wall of defence, the entrance tower and a double drawbridge (one for pedestrians and one vehicles) one enters a spellbinding courtyard.
The fortress is surrounded by parapet walks excavated in the stone and the most ancient part of the castle is the square tower built at the top of the cliff from which it is possible to view the entire valley all the way to Piacenza.
A water reservoir was created at the base of the tower indispensable during the numerous long sieges and according to a legend, the ghost of Rosania Fulgosio lingers over the castle: The young woman was walled in alive by her husband in the 13th century as punishment for having betrayed him with Lancillotto Anguissola.
In 780 documents prove the assignment of the castle from Carlo Magno to Bishop Giuliano II of Piacenza until 1255 when it was conquered once and for all by Azzo Guidoboi for Oberto II Pallavicino.
All through the middle ages the castle was a battleground between Guelphs and Ghibellines as it was the sole Guelph stronghold in the Piacenza territory.
In the XIV century the Fulgosi family results the sole owner of the castle. In 1464 it goes to Galeazzo Campofregoso, in 1471 to Attendolo da Cotignola and in 1508 to the Milanese Carlo Borri to end in the hands of the dukedonm in 1599.
In the same year, Ranuccio Farnese decides to donate the castle to the Anguissola family along with the title “ Count of Gropparello”.
The Anguissola family maintain the domain until the Napoleonic suppression.
In 1869 Count Ludovico Marazzani –Visconti buys the castle and entrusts Camillo Guidotti to carry ot the restauration. In the style of that period, neogothic structures and windows are added.
Successive passages lead to the Gibelli family and the castle is opened to the public.
Today the castle hosts a “Fairy tale Park” where children are accompanied by actors with which they discover a world of fairytales and Nordic myths in a magical medieval atmosphere of knights, gnomes, elfs and withches.
In the Tavern of the castle periodically thematic banquets and medieval dinners are held.
“Piacenza e la sua provincia” di Leonardo Cafferini, Nuova Litoeffe, Castelvetro Piacentino; 2005
Picture: Massimo Telò,