CANCELLO DEL CASTELLO DI GROPPARELLO

SABATO 18 GIUGNO CASTELLO CHIUSO PER EVENTO PRIVATO

GROPPARELLO CASTLE

 

OPENING 2022

Dates and times

Daytime guided tour : Every day by reservation 

If you want, every Friday,  you can book a private guided tour in English, with lunch at the Medieval Tavern. Go to the CALENDAR

Night guided tour: Saturday evening and pre-holidays € 15.00 per ps, min. 2 ps

Other evenings only for groups min. 4 people. Cost always € 15 per ps.

BACKGROUND.

Suspended on a wild territory like an eagle's nest, the Castle of Gropparello (VIII-XIII century), strikes visitors for the turreted grouping of the monumental complex, which during the visit gives the eye an alternation of scenographically different panoramic views between their. With an irregular plan due to the roughness of the ground, the Castle represents an example of the art of medieval fortification, placed to defend the access road to the valley, it stands on a large ophiolithic area with a ravine that descends to the Vezzeno stream, and that makes the manor unassailable. It is surrounded by a park of 20 hectares, within which there are the magnificent Vezzeno Gorges with the famous Celtic altar, and the Museum of the Rising Rose , which winds through a labyrinth of hornbeams with 17 rose gardens consisting of 1280 plants of 120 varieties of roses.

Gropparello Castle, formerly known as "Rocca di Cagnano", is a characteristic example of medieval fortification work placed to defend the access road to a valley, conceived as a true eagle's nest overlooking the cliff, and therefore absolutely unassailable ..

The oldest document known so far on Gropparello dates back to the year 810, and is the deed with which the emperor Charlemagne grants the place as a fief to the then bishop of Piacenza Giuliano II.

It is believed that the fortification of the Carolingian period was built, as was often the case, on a primitive Roman fortification, perhaps a simple watchtower or a "castrum" of the III - II century BC.

At the time of the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines; the castle, in the hands of the Guelph side, is attacked by the Ghibelline forces on several occasions and with alternating luck.

At the beginning of the 14th century Gropparello was in the hands of the powerful Guelph family of the Fulgosio, probably as a bequest of the then bishop of Piacenza Filippo Fulgosio.

In 1599 Ranuccio I Farnese, lord of Parma and Piacenza, returned to possession of the fief of Gropparello, invested it with the hereditary title of "Count of Gropparello" Marcantonio Anguissola, his trusted man, who had among other things held the position of governor of the val di Taro.

In 1848, with the death of Gaetano Anguissola, this branch of the family died out; the castle, put up for sale together with other properties, goes through a period of great decline in which it is also used, similarly to other castles in the area, as a rural building.

It was purchased in 1869 by Count Ludovico Marazzani Visconti Terzi, (belonging to a branch of the family that owns Grazzano Visconti), who commissioned a famous architect from Piacenza of the time, Camillo Guidotti, to complete the restoration of the ancient building.

With the 1900s the castle passed into the hands of various owners, and, after a long period of neglect, it was bought in 1974 by the current, who made their home, but also promoting numerous initiatives so that all those who love history and art can enjoy the fact that a building of this importance returns to "live".

 

GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE STRUCTURE.

The Gropparello castle remains perhaps one of the complexes that best preserve all the charm of the medieval fortification, thanks also to the exceptional landscape in which it is located, and to the very particular layout, which makes it appear almost set in the rock, of volcanic origin, on which it is been built.

The foundations on which the stone walls rest are carved into the living rock, which in many places is still visible even inside the building, protruding from the floor level in many sections of the ancient cellars.

The access to the fortress was possible only through the two drawbridges, a “driveway” (still functioning today), which was lowered only for the passage of men on horseback or military carriages, and a pedestrian one.

The main door is surmounted by an interesting bas-relief depicting St. George in the act of hitting the dragon that was about to devour the young princess, according to the well-known legend that inspired many medieval and Renaissance artists.

 

CENTRAL COURTYARD

The central courtyard is one of the most suggestive and interesting places in the building; from here it is possible to understand the defensive logic of the ancient medieval fortress, dominated by the mighty central bulk of the keep, built on a rocky mass that rises about ten meters above the level of the courtyard.

Far from the traditional regular geometric courtyard of Bramante's conception, with various orders of arcades (which would require, among other things, a flat and regular terrain), it has a vaguely triangular irregular shape, which is essentially the shape of the rocky spur, just adapted to the needs constructive.

The evidently scenographic structure of the façade with the striped plaster and the balcony is due to the neo-Gothic interventions, clearly alluding to the famous scene of “Romeo and Juliet” so dear to neo-Gothic romanticism.

From the terrace to the top of the keep, the view can range, in a north-western direction, to the Venetian pre-Alps;

On the other side of the cliff you can also observe a truncated conical rock (curiously called in the local tradition the "tomb of Garibaldi") which has been recognized, on the basis of certain characteristics and similarities with similar structures, as a place of worship of ancient peoples of Celtic race.

 

ALCOVA ROOM

Among the interiors, particularly interesting is a dining room dating back to the time of Marcantonio Anguissola (late sixteenth century), which preserves some of the most significant architectural-decorative elements of the period, such as the monumental fireplace, with rich stucco decorations of mythological inspiration, and the room known as the “alcove chamber” due to its function in the 18th century.

The environment, consisting of a gallery with a vaulted ceiling, currently has an architectural structure and decorations dating back to the mid-1700s in the so-called "Rococo" style.

The arch leading to the alcove has the Gropparello Anguissola coat of arms in the center.

 

The Collection of Musical Instruments

Thanks to the excellent acoustics due to the vaulted ceiling, the environment is currently used as a music room, particularly suitable for chamber music, and contains some instruments of great interest both from the point of view of antiques and that of organology (i.e. the study of the evolution of musical instruments)

The "grand grand" piano with refined and elegant lines dates back to the middle of the last century (the year of construction, determined on the basis of the serial number, is 1847; it is therefore particularly ancient as a piano, since it is normally considered ancient a piano from the late nineteenth century); it was built in Paris by Pierre Erard (signature inlaid inside the lid), one of the most prestigious piano makers of the time.

The harp, on the other hand, dates back to the first half of the eighteenth century (its characteristic size is a little smaller than that of the harp we know today, deriving from the more massive and sonorous late nineteenth-century instrument). From an in-depth survey it would seem that the harp may have been built by Sebastian Erard. The string instrument can be defined as a "popular cello". It is attributable to the Brescia-Cremonese area and probably dates back to the early 17th century.

The Studiolo da Musica, an "didactic" Music Room dedicated to ancient music, which houses an Italian harpsichord (copy Grimaldi 1697), an archlute with 10 choirs (copy Matteo Sellas) was also open to visits , 2 straight baroque flutes (1 soprano and 1 tenor, copies of Stansby),

1 soprano cromorno and a tenor cromorno (copies of the originals in the Nuremberg Museum), 1 alto bomber (Nuremberg museum copy), a popular 6-choir lute, a popular vielle, a Celtic harp (copy), a baroque trombone by Hass circa 1820, a French lute hurdy-gurdy from circa 1750 with a carved woman's head, 2 bolognese school donkey skin drums, triangles and various percussions, as well as a small collection of popular rattles and whistles.

The collection of instruments in the study also includes some nineteenth-century instruments: a violin and a cello from the French school of around 1870, a mandolin from the Neapolitan school built by Lindberg in Florence, a transverse flute with 6 keys in box wood of Majno of Milan; a Hungarian zitar of the eighteenth century, a fun mechanical table top built in Vienna around 1820: the mechanical table tops were built on commission, and were used to brighten the conversation rooms of noble families with "live music" even when there was no musician in the house; in fact the melody is created by activating a crank that sets in motion the rotating rollers, which operate through the metal pins the strikers that strike the vibrating strings.

This room, in addition to being used for educational activities with elementary and middle school children, can also be used as a study room or rehearsal room for use by small musical groups for early music.

The Collection of Musical Instruments

Thanks to the excellent acoustics due to the vaulted ceiling, the environment is currently used as a music room, particularly suitable for chamber music, and contains some instruments of great interest both from the point of view of antiques and that of organology (i.e. the study of the evolution of musical instruments)

The "grand grand" piano with refined and elegant lines dates back to the middle of the last century (the year of construction, determined on the basis of the serial number, is 1847; it is therefore particularly ancient as a piano, since it is normally considered ancient a piano from the late nineteenth century); it was built in Paris by Pierre Erard (signature inlaid inside the lid), one of the most prestigious piano makers of the time.

The harp, on the other hand, dates back to the first half of the eighteenth century (its characteristic size is a little smaller than that of the harp we know today, deriving from the more massive and sonorous late nineteenth-century instrument). From a thorough appraisal it would seem that the harp may have been built by Sebastian Erard. The string instrument can be defined as a "popular cello". It is attributable to the Brescia-Cremonese area and probably dates back to the early 17th century.

The Studiolo da Musica, an "didactic" Music Room dedicated to ancient music, which houses an Italian harpsichord (copy Grimaldi 1697), an archlute with 10 choirs (copy Matteo Sellas) was also open to visits , 2 straight baroque flutes (1 soprano and 1 tenor, copies of Stansby),

1 soprano cromorno and a tenor cromorno (copies of the originals in the Nuremberg Museum), 1 alto bomber (Nuremberg museum copy), a popular 6-choir lute, a popular vielle, a Celtic harp (copy), a baroque trombone by Hass circa 1820, a French lute hurdy-gurdy from circa 1750 with a carved woman's head, 2 bolognese school donkey skin drums, triangles and various percussions, as well as a small collection of popular rattles and whistles.

The collection of instruments in the study also includes some nineteenth-century instruments: a violin and a cello from the French school of around 1870, a mandolin from the Neapolitan school built by Lindberg in Florence, a transverse flute with 6 keys in box wood of Majno of Milan; a Hungarian zitar of the eighteenth century, a fun mechanical table top built in Vienna around 1820: the mechanical table tops were built on commission, and were used to brighten the conversation rooms of noble families with "live music" even when there was no musician in the house; in fact the melody is created by activating a crank that sets in motion the rotating rollers, which operate through the metal pins the strikers that strike the vibrating strings.

This room, in addition to being used for educational activities with elementary and middle school children, can also be used as a study room or rehearsal room for use by small musical groups for early music.

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