A trip out of town to discover the Malaspina Castle of Fosdinovo. On the trail of a mysterious ghost and his sad stories… inspired only by the stories told in a children’s book!
The exciting moment always comes when your child starts reading. It happened to me with Benjamin and the book “Monstrous monsters for brave readers” (F. Sillani, Ed. Emme). Chosen by him personally in a delightful bookshop in Pietrasanta, it was his first book as a true reader and, therefore, his companion for an entire summer. The book aroused in him the interest for the various types of monsters and strange beings that animate legends and the history of literature. Among the fear and curiosity of ghosts, we searched among the castles in Tuscany, one shrouded in mystery that could also tell the story of daily life within the walls of the stronghold. So we chose to visit the Malaspina Castle in Fosdinovo (Massa).
Malaspina Castle of Fosdinovo, the history of the building
The Malaspina Castle of Fosdinovo, which dates back to 1200, is set between the Apuan Alps and the sea between Lerici and Portovenere. Easily accessible, it dominates the small village of the same name. As soon as you arrive at the ticket office you can appreciate some typical food and wine products of the area (herbal teas, honey, jams, infusions), handmade games for children that evoke medieval life, tourist information. The guide, well prepared and helpful, accompanied us with the group of visitors to the discovery of the castle. The building, although dating back to the Middle Ages, was rebuilt in the romantic period: the architectural elements evoke a purely Gothic spirit, able to fascinate adults and children alike. The castle museum houses a torture chamber, armour, ceramics from ancient pharmacies, everyday objects and a collection of contemporary works created by the artists housed in the castle.
When Dante stayed at the Malaspina Castle in Fosdinovo
Among the many things to see at the Malaspina Castle, worthy of note is Dante’s room. The Supreme Poet, in fact, was hosted by the Malaspina family during his exile, as evidenced by the numerous frescoes.
“Oh,” said he, “for your countries I have never been; but where do you live? for the whole of Europe that is not obvious? The fame that your house honors, shouts the signers and shouts the contrada, so that he knows who hasn’t been there yet.”
(Purgatorio, VIII, v.121-126)
It is also possible to walk on the walls of the castle, thus fully appreciating its architectural structure and admire the breathtaking landscape that extends from the mountains to the sea.
The interiors are decorated with frescoes in which the symbol of the Malaspina family, a symbol of the family’s history itself, often recurs. These itineraries are stimulating for a first approach to medieval life in the castles starting from authentic finds that attract the curiosity of children.
The story of the ghost of Bianca Maria Aloisa
What has most involved my seven-year-old is the phantasmagorical elements of the castle. Interesting are the legends that animate the fortress from this point of view. The first one concerns the young Bianca Maria Aloisa, albino daughter of Giacomo Malaspina and Olivia Grimaldi. The story of the young girl follows the destiny of the rebellious girls compared to the patriarchal will. For love the girl was walled up alive with a faithful dog and a wild boar, symbol of rebellion. The remains of the girl and the animals were found during the restoration excavations. In the room dedicated to her, it was thrilling to get lost in search of the traces that testify to her current… presence! In fact, a young girl with long hair crossing the walls has been sighted by numerous witnesses and the object of historical-scientific research and specialists in the occult. Mysterious remains the bed in the ghost’s room: in the pomegranates placed in the four corners you can hear a heartbeat and on the bed a breath of cold air caresses the hands of the most daring… try to believe!
Staying and learning at the Malaspina Castle of Fosdinovo The Malaspina Castle also hosts a Bed and Breakfast. The suites, furnished in style, wind along the museum path and have been obtained from the ancient rooms that have hosted (and still host) the members of the Malaspina Family. Moreover, in the castle there is also the cultural centre “CastelloInMovimento” which aims to make this ancient residence a place of multidisciplinary thinking and production, and a reference point also for schools, with workshops and educational activities for children.
Benjamin’s curiosity for ghosts has been satisfied, so much so that we will look for other ghosts, for other castles on the road to add new knowledge and new thrills to our paths.