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Castles of Liguria


Brown Castle in Portofino

Brown Castle in Portofino

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The castle Brown is an ancient fortresses located high above the harbor of Portofino. In the past, the castle was conceived as a defensive building as it is possible to know from the history and the excavations. Actually, years ago it was found the rest of a roman tower which dated back to the II-III century.
Official historical sources say the castle was occupied by Tommaso of Campofregoso, doge of the genoese republic, who conquered Portofino defeating the duke of Milan Filippo Maria Visconti. During the XVI century, Castle Brown became a property of the genoese republic which restored and amplified it in order defeat Saracen pirates' attack.
The name of the castle derives from sir Montague Yeats Brown, the english consul who bought it in 1870. From 1961 until today the castle is a property of the municipality of Portofino and it hosts important cultural events and exhibitions. Besides the importance of its history the castle has a wonderful aspect.
Outside there's a big garden with flowers and rose trees, from which tourists can admire the spectacular gulf of Tigullio. Inside the building is a real museum. there are unique marble bas-relieves, majolica floor tiles, lombard groin vault, carved lintel and a precious Raffaellino and Giulio de Rossi's triptych which dates back to 1550.

Opening Times
Until October: Open from Tuesday to Thursday 10.00 a.m - 7.00 p.m
Friday and Saturday 10.00 a.m - 10.00 p.m / Sunday 10.00 a.m to 7.00 p.m / closed on Monday

From October: Open all days except on Monday 10.00 a.m- 7.00 p.m
From 1st of November to 31st December
Open on Saturday-Sunday 10.00 a.m - 7.00 p.m

Ticket price
Full price ticket € 6,00 - Reduced price ticket € 4,00
Free entry for the inhabitants of Portofino



Dragonara Castle

Dragonara Castle

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The Dragonara Castle is an ancient defensive construction in the Ligurian village of Camogli overlooking the gulf of Paradiso. There aren't clear sources about the castle and so it is difficult to know the real date of construction, but it is said it dates back to the XIII century.
The dragonara castle is really important also for its history. During the centuries it has been modified a lot: first of all it was conceived as a fortresses against the pirates of the Mediterranean sea, secondly it was a prison, thridly became a consultative assembly and finally it has hosted the ancient Tirrenic acquarium.
Its main function was that one of ensure the safety of the village and for this reason it was constantly reinforced by the senate of Genoa which gave it lots of weapons. In 1438 the Milanese partisans of the Dukemon besieged the building, but some years later the inhabitants of Camogli rebuilt new walls which cost 450 pounds.
After political fights between Camogli and Genoa, the castle was destroyed. Six years later Dragonara building was constructedagain and passed into the hands of the Doge of the Republic. Only in the XX century Dragonara castle hosted the Tirrenic Aquarium in which there were different tubs with specimens of marine fauna. So the castle is really famous for being a forerunner of the Aquarium of Genoa.

Opening Times
Open from Tuesday to Sunday 10,00-11,45 a.m and 2,00-5,45 p.m
Closed on Monday

Lerici Castle

Lerici Castle

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Lerici Castle rises on a rocky promontory overlooking the Lerici bay. The role of the building developed during the Republic of Genoa which conquered the village. In this way, the city could did the expansionist aim towards east. Recently, the castle has been restored to give hospitality to the Geopaleontologic Museum which has been founded after the discovery of fossils. The Castle is a famous symbol of Lerici also for its complex architecture.
There's a pentagonal tower which is the most ancient structure of the building. Then, in the 14th century were built thick walls all around the tower. There are three different parts in the castle, according to their period of construction:
The first phase is referred to the pisan domination where the castle had to have the primitive tower, the rectangular body and the chapel of Saint Anastasia.
The second phase of construction is that one of the Genoese Reconquest in 1256. The walls surrounding the courtyard were built and both the chapel and the entrance were finished.
The third phase began in 1555 and consisted of the completion of the fortresses which consolidates its strategic importance.

Opening Times
Winter (from 20 October to 15 March)
from Tuesday to Friday: from 10.30a.m - 12.30a.m
Saturday, Sunday and Yuletide
(from 26 December to 6 January): 10.30a.m- 12.30a.m / 2.30p.m - 5.30p.m
Closed on Monday
Spring (from 16 March to 30 June) from Tuesday to Sunday and holidays: 10.30a.m- 1.00 p.m / 2.30 p.m- 6.00 p.m
Closed on Monday
Summer (from 1 of July to 31 August)
from Tuesday to Sunday and holidays 10.30a.m - 12.30a.m / 6.30p.m- 12.00p.m
Closed on Monday
Autumn (from 1 of September to 19 October)
from Tuesday to Sunday and holidays 10.30a.m- 1.00p.m / 2.30p.m - 6.00p.m
Closed on Monday
For further infromation:
Castello di Lerici - San Giorgio Square 19032 Lerici (SP)ITALY
Tel. 0187 96 91 14 - Fax 0187 94 28 38
email: info@castellodilerici.it


Doria Castle

Doria Castle

Photo by Karen Brodie

The Doria Castle is an ancient fortresses in the the village of Portovenere, overlooking the spectacular Poets' Gulf. The fortification rises on the top of an hill and is one of oldest military building in the Republic of Genoa.
Even nowadays the real date of construction is unknown. Few information date back to the year 1139 when the Republic of Genoa controlled the village of Porto Venere, through the Lords of Vezzano.
Around the second half of XV century, Genoa decided to demolish the castle to rebuild it according to the modern military and architectural criterion. After many changes,the building reached the actual aspect only in the XVII century.
Doria's castle is important also for its relationship with Napoleon. Actually, during the french domination of Napoleon, the castle was used as a prison without changing its architectural elements.

Opening Times Open from Monday to Thursday from 10.00a.m to 1.00p.m and from 2.00 a.m to 5 p.m.
On Friday, Saturday, Sunday all-day opening from 11.00 a.m to 6.00p.m


Ticket prices full price ticket 2,10
reduced price ticket 1,00 (for youngers aged under 18 years old and soldiers)
free entry for children aged under 7 years old


Wedding in the Castle

It is possible to celebrate a civil wedding in the Doria Castle! This suggestion has been successful and lots of bridegrooms from everywhere in the world, have chosen this wonderful castle for the most important day of their life. The weedding can take place in a room,in the amphitheatre or in a panoramic balcony. What is more it is possible to prepare parties or the wedding lunch.
Here you have a list of prices: € 310,00 for residents
€ 510,00 for non-resident italian citizens
€ 610,00 for foreigners


Annunziata Fortress

Annunziata Fortress

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The Annunziata fortresses was an ancient military building in Ventimiglia. It was a typical defensive construction( such as d'Appio Castle or San Paolo fortresses) built during the genoese domination and the napoleonic power. In the past, there was the Annunziata monastery instead of the fortresses.
Only in 1831, Malaussena colonel, the wing commander Podestà and Camillo Benso count of Cavour studied a system for changing the building in a fortification. Ventimiglia was a strategic place from which it was possible to control all the passages towards the Po Valley. The fortresses was perfectly organized by means of underground tunnels which where extremely useful for protection.
After the Second World War, the fortresses was abandoned and was given to the municipality of Ventimiglia. Nowadays, the fortification is an important attraction for tourists because it hosts from 1990 the Civic Archaeological Museum Girolamo Rossi. This is a big museumwith seven rooms where tourists can see different finds, coming from the ancient Albintimilium.

Opening Times Open from Tuesday to Saturday 9.00-12.30 a.m and 3.00- 6.00p.m
Open Sunday from 10.00 to 12.30 a.m
Closed on Monday
For more information:
phone: (+39) 0184 35.11.81
email: info@fortedellannunziata.it
Evening openings: Thursday and Sunday from 8.30 to 10.30 p.m


Firmafede fortress

Firmafede fortress

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The Cittadella o Firmafede fortresses was the first fortification to be built in Sarzana in 1249, thanks to the help of Pisa's citizens allieds. In 1324 a man, called Castruccio Castracani, modified lots of elements of the fortresses and its defensive system while in 1487, during the famous Serrazzana war, the building was entirely destroyed by Lorenzo de' Medici in order to built a new huge one. Lorenzo charged good florentine architects such as, Giuliano da Sangallo and Francesco di Giovanni nicknamed "Francione", with building the Cittadella. When works were finished, all the insignias of Medici family were affixed to the main entry of the building, as a symbol of triumph.
After Lorenzo's death, the fortresses became property of San George Bank. During this period, the fortresses was enlarged. In the side overlooking the sea was built a barracks with other two huge bulwarks. All the six baluards and keeps were dedicated to the Saints BartolomeoGirolamo, Francesco, Pietro, Martino, Barbara, Bernardino.
For a long period, Genoeses used the fortresses as a prison and after the Second World War many citizens found shelter here. Nowadays it has been restored, and it is ready to host lots of cultural events.

The Fortress of Sarzanello

The Fortress of Sarzanello

Photo by Mauro Piergigli

Whoever goes to Sarzana, from wherever comes, cannot be attracted by that impressive building that dominates the Magra valley, from the top of Sarzanello hill.
The fortresses is the most immediate, representative and dearest image of the town, to witness the past greatness; it is the first and most forceful message of the town of Fiasella, Ivani, Bertoloni and Pope Niccolò V…its truest and most authentic proof of the town successor of Luni.
The fortresses as it is now, is the result of historical events that saw Sarzana and its territory continuosly in the centre of fights. This is due to its strategical position. It was, in fact, a road junction crossed, at that time, by roads of great importance of comunication like the Aurelia, the Romea and the one to Parma and Piacenza.
The existence of a first structure is mentioned for the first time in a diploma of Emperor Ottone I, dated 19th May 963, in which it was granted to the Bishop of Luni Adalberto, the possession of six castra, among which there was the one of Sarzana.
Surely, before this date, there had been a fortresses or a tower on the hill of Sarzanello, with the function of street protection, the main element of a wider project of fortification at territorial level.
We may suppose that it should take part to that first fortified line, known with the name of byzantine limes, bound to bar the ways that lead to the tyrrhenian naval bases (Luni) of the sea province Italorum, made of castles, towers linked at sight and arranged to contol the most important routes, for example the near Aemilia Scauri, the most important byzantine coast road.
With the passing of the years and the changing of the political-military situations, the place gained more and more importance to settle in it, around the end of the X century, one of the various Bishop’s residences of the valley, a Palatium Episcopi whose existence we have no more traces.
The castle is quoted continuosly in the years 1076, 1078, 1080 as court of Frederick II the Redbeard and in the 1191 as court of Henry VI and in the 1203 as the Bishop’s breadbasket.
The slow, but progressive decay of the near Luni, already started in the VI and V century, brought the people to move to the surrounding hills to look for safety and food, thus improving and giving birth to new villages as Nicola, Ortonovo, Castelnuovo, Ameglia...
The Sarzanello hill populated with exiles, gathered around the Bishop’s residence, who was going to move there from Luni.
We enter into the Fortresses through the small bridge that stands upon the wide and deep ditch; we, immediately, understand the greatness of the building we are going to visit.
The donjon, the bastions, the dungeons, the communication tranches, the view…all pleasant emotions one after another.

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