Malaspina Castle of Malgrate
Malgrate rises along the road that connects Villafranca Lunigiana to Bagnone and it is easily reachable following a short deviation. Villafranca lies half way between the motorway A15 exits of 'Aulla' and 'Pontremoli'.
The mighty Malaspina Castle of Malgrate dominates since a long time the valley of the river Bagnone, tributary of the river Magra, with its characteristic round tower crowning a hill that exalts its strategic position. The position of this castle, overlooking a vast plane, emphasizes its historical role in controlling the roads coming from the Cisa Pass, the Appennines and the Garfagnana.
The fortification was developed around the year 1275, but its origin is certainly much older, and since then on its slender 25 meters tall tower, that reflects a style widely used in many other Lunigiana castles, waved the marquises Malaspina's standard, uncontested feudatary of the whole Lunigiana . Malgrate was part of the line of defense created between 13th and 15th centuries by the Malaspina to fortify the territory and control the main roads of communication. The dominion of the powerful family ended in 1615, when Malgrate was granted to the Spanish governor of the near town of Pontremoli. The settlement passed then to the marquises Ariberti to which we owe the 15th century aspect of the inhabited area, developed attached to the castle walls.
The castle still preserves its typical medieval aspect
with a trapezoidal shaped walled curtain equipped with guelphs crenellation,
loopholes, leaning turrets at the south-west and south-east angles (today
remain only the brackets of support in stone), wall walk and tower keep
still gifted with machicoulis (projection from the wall made of stone
which has openings through which the defenders can fire upon an enemy
directly below). Flanking the western side of the castle walls we find
the gate of the ancient village [the inhabited area is today of sixteenth-century
aspect with the two main roads embellished with remarkable 'palazzetti']
that leads into the square on which face the main front of the castle.
Here is opened the main gate with a beautiful pointed arch and traces
of the formerly drawbridge, today replaced by one in stone, and those
of a postern.
The whole fortified complex has been recently submitted to an excellent work of restoration after years of abandonment. Malgrate, thanks to its dominant position, is one of the most scenographic medieval comlex of the Lunigiana.