A long history of nobility, medieval codes and wine passion
Palazzo Malaspina represents the most important and largest noble residence, dating back to the XII century, in the ancient historical center of Bobbio, still in the possession of the Marquis Malaspina . The entrance to the building is located in Contrada Borgoratto, a short distance from Piazza Fringuella , corresponding to the ancient Porta Frangùle, the second access to the city, which today stands out for its large porch.
In 1164, the emperor Federico Barbarossa wanted to reward the loyalty and military support received by Obizzo Malaspina, called "Il Grande", with a diploma that awarded him goods and possessions, among others, in Lunigiana, Val di Taro, Val di Sestri, Valle Staffora and Val Trebbia. The diploma indicated courts, castles and territories, including those once belonging to the Abbey of San Colombano . In this way, Bobbio became one of the most important possessions of the Marquis Malaspina.
In the second half of the twelfth century, the Palace had already become the residence of the Monticelli family, and then passed to the Malaspina family, after the death of Gian Battista Monticelli, and the wedding of their daughter Antonia Monticelli with Lodovico Malaspina.
Some documents attest that Corrado Malaspina would have hosted the great poet Dante Alighieri , who had come from Lunigiana, after a stay at Morello Malaspina. Dante, in fact, had become procurator of the Malaspina, and undertook a trip to Bobbio to negotiate peace between the Malaspina family and the bishop-count of Luni.
Architectural and artistic characteristics
Palazzo Malaspina occupies an entire block, and is bordered by several "districts", the term with which the streets are called in Bobbio.
The building appears externally with severe and rigorous forms , surrounded by a high wall on all four sides. Inside, on the contrary, it stands out for its beautiful portico with round arches, with columns and capitals, the airy loggias and the splendid and elegant halls frescoed and furnished with period furniture. In addition, there is also a private chapel.
The upper part of the building was arranged by the Marquis Antonio Maria Malaspina in the eighteenth century, on a project by the Bobbian Antonio Maria Losio, to whom we also owe the large staircase, built in 1758 by Carlo Giuseppe Calderara di Garlasco, who left his initials at the base of the balustrade.
In the building there is also the Noble Archive , which preserves, among other things, important imperial and monastic documents, including a certificate of sale of Odberto degli Obertenghi, and the Diploma of Federico Barbarossa which confirmed the domains and properties of I object to Malaspina.
The Historical Library, on the other hand, boasts a collection of 1300 volumes of particular value and rarity, all published before 1830. Inside there are valuable works such as the Sommola of peaceful consciousness of Pacifico da Novara, an incunabulum printed in Milan in 1497, as many as 100 Cinquecentine , and the complete Catalog of the feudal goods and the codes of the Scriptorium of San Colombano, all kept in ancient wooden cabinets. In addition, legal, philosophy and classical literature, scientific studies, treatises on mathematics, geography and biology also appear in the catalog.
The coherence of the Palazzo Malaspina results in the Act dated 30 March 1761, together with an album of remarkable beauty which contains the drawings of all the properties belonging to the Malaspina Family, with a detailed plan of the building, which was created by Antonio Maria Losio between 1772 and 1794.
Overall, the volumes and documents kept in the Palace allow an important opportunity to reconstruct not only the history of the Malaspina family, but above all the cultural, social and economic history of Bobbio.
From the internal courtyard you can access the ancient cellars , where the wines produced by the family business are stored and rest, starting from 1772. In that year, in fact, the Malaspina wine production formally began, with the plant of vines in the funds most favorable to cultivation and well exposed to the sun. It was then the grandfather and the father, who owed the introduction of the Cabernet Sauvignon vine to Bobbio, of the current owner, to increase the cultivation of the vine, respecting a millennial tradition that leads back to the foundation of the Monastery of San Colombano .
The owner of the palace and cellars is the marquis Obizzo Malaspina, together with his son Currado and his wife Beatrice Brichetto Arnaboldi. Among other things, he was responsible for the creation of the "Colli Piacentini" Protection Consortium, whose objective is to control and enhance the production of local wines.
Periodically, the Palazzo Malaspina becomes the evocative protagonist of events related to the production and promotion of wine, as well as hosting the public at special openings, which allow you to discover the charm of its architecture and the pleasure of the wines that are preserved there.
The Malaspina family
The Malaspina family descended from the progenitor Odberto I, during the reign of Emperor Otto I of Saxony. Odberto was appointed Count of Luni in 945, and then Marquis of the Mara of Genoa by King Berengario II in 951, and Palatine Count in 953.
The marquis Obizzo I Malaspina, after taking sides against the emperor, then went to the side of Federico Barbarossa, supporting him in a particular way in the siege and in the war against Milan. This was, in particular, the reason why Barbarossa later decided to reward him.
Starting from the children of Obizzo I, the Malaspina dynasty was then divided into two branches, called "Malaspina dello Spino Fiorito" and "Malaspina dello Spino Secco". From the latter descends the current Marquis Obizzo. Among the members of the family we should mention Franceschino and Moroello, who hosted Dante Alighieri, who dedicated some verses to them present in Canto VIII del Purgatorio, in the Divine Comedy. Alessandro Malaspina, who lived in the second half of the 18th century, was instead a scientist and an explorer on behalf of the royal court of Spain.
The construction of the Malaspina Castle is also linked to the Malaspina family , which was due to Corradino Malaspina in the early fourteenth century. The Borgo di Bobbio began to be fortified in the thirteenth century with a city wall, and already in 1219 a braida de castello was named.
Porta Fringuella and the Palio delle Contrade
In front of the Malaspina Palace stands the eighteenth-century Palazzo Tamurelli, which preserves rooms with interesting frescoes. The building now houses a hostel. Along the Via dei Mulini you reach the Malaspina dal Verme Castle , an ancient fortified structure that can be visited which is accessed through two distinct entrances.
Furthermore, not far from the Palace, there is the Piazza di Porta Fringuella , in the place where the ancient Porta Fringuella once stood, with the 12th century arcades. The name of the gate remains linked to one of the five Contradas that still take part in the Palio delle Contrade di Bobbio , which is held in June. The Contrade are five: Alcarina, Agazza, Nova, Legleria and, in fact, Fringuella. Each of them takes its name from the gateways of the medieval city.
As in the Middle Ages, today the representatives of the districts compete in skill competitions to decree the Contrada Regina. The color of a banner and the uniforms worn by the participants is linked to each Contrada. The event also includes a historical procession, which winds along the streets of the center, involving characters belonging to the different Contrade, each represented by a Prince and a Princess, as well as by the Captain who bears the flags and the emblem.
The Palio foresees that the teams involved play five different games: Tug of war, Race with the Towers, Palo della Cuccagna, Egg throw and the Ratto della Castellana. The latter test involves an assault on a fake castle to free a sighing captive princess. By competing in this way, the five city districts vie for the conquest of the Drappo, which will remain in the possession of the "Contrada Regina" for a period of one year, and then be offered again at the next edition.
The Palio delle Contrade di Bobbio, therefore, is an event of unquestionable charm, capable of reviving the ancient past of the city of Bobbio, and which can make a stay in this corner of the province of Piacenza even more interesting and engaging. intact the beauties and traditions of the past.
Furthermore, the fish market is held every Saturday morning at Piazza di Porta Fringuella, in the context of the weekly Bobbio Market Fair , which sees the inhabitants of the Trebbia Valley and the Apennine valleys arriving in the village.