Visiting the Stone Castle in Vobbia

It is located a stone’s throw from the sky and two high cliffs surround it. A narrow valley, was born at its feet. It’s a castle without towers, crenellated walls or drawbridges. There are sad stories of princesses, knights of bold and hidden treasures. There are no ghosts rattling their chains. There are stories of killings, abuse of power, violence, torture. In this exciting bit of heaven, angels do not listen to hate, but just chilling screams and demonic. Here there reigned any king or queen reigned here, and still reigns, only fear.

The Stone Castle is located in the Ligurian town of Vobbia in a singular position between two outcrops of conglomerate that are its natural ramparts. Named after the main monument of the Genoa area, the castle of stone monuments in the list of Italian national.

To get there you must have good lungs and a lot of courage: you can carefully walk a fascinating and mysterious path within the woods, where you’ll be oppressed by almost surrealanguish , or if you prefer (and I doubt you do ) you can reach the castle by an old bridge crossing the scary lake Zan. Not that it is unsafe, nor is there a lack of stones along the axis or its structure: it’s just been built by the Devil (as the legend spreads between the entries of the people) but that’s another story to be told from this voyage.

According to documents that are not so recent, the Castle was built around 1000 by the Bishops of Tortona, in defense of Salt Road, and in 1050 was sold to the Marquis of Govi. History loses track of the castle until the thirteenth century, when a certain Opizzone Stone became the owner. In 1518 it came under the guidance of the Spinola family, then moved to the family until 1882 Botta Adorno, and later to Cusani, before being burned by Napoleonic troops. The castle was abandoned until 1919, when the family Beroldo took possession and brought it back to a state certainly more “living”, and then donate it to the City of Vobbia in 1979. The next few years, the City had it restored, massively, and now the Castle Stone welcomes all visitors.

The mysteries that goes behind this fascinating and mysterious place, however, are very large: why is it said that the bridge of Zan was built by the devil? And why are incessant moaning heard from the valey? Who discourages unauthorized visitors not to pursue the path towards the castle?

In past centuries, when the valley was crossed by people moving on foot or by mule, the old bridge Zan was necessary to continue their journey and reach the low or high valley, especially when the bed of the Vobbia was impassable due to the flooding of the river. The dating of the bridge is not certain, nor are there any useful documentation to trace its construction: in this sense the name “Zan”, goes back to the medieval origins, can help in this regard. Since Zan is the diminutive of “Zane”, which means John in Genovese it indicates that the builder of the bridge may have been John Marquis Malaspina di Gavi, lord of the area in the thirteenth century. The type of construction, with a single arch, agrees with the medieval dating. According to the legend the castle owner whose name nust have been Zan or Zane met the devil, who offered to build a bridge over the river Busts to overcome the difficulties of crossing: in return he would askZan would for the first soul that passed from there . The next morning, returned with his dog in place to ensure that the work had been completed, Zan did spend his first dog on the bridge. The devil not having digested the affront would remain hidden near the bridge for a long time, until one day the warden Zan came back and buried near the bridge a chest with treasure: the devil made sure that anyone who attempted to bring the chest to light was crushed by a landslide of rocks. And so it was for a long time until some centuries later, just during the construction of the parish church of Vobbia, a procession of faithful vobbiesi went to the place where the treasure was buried to retrieve it. The devil’s prepared to give new life to a landslide, but the priest sprinkled the soil in which the chest was buried with holy water and made the sign of the cross. At this point, according to legend, there was a loud bang and the devil fled away, freeing the place from what was a real curse. Unfortunately, the concrete bridge built in the 30s hid at the sight of the medieval building along the road, which is several meters lower than the roadway. A sign indicating its presence and the short path that leads to the bridge.

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