Castiglia, the fortress of Saluzzo
The many souls of the castle
Saluzzo is a charming town in the heart of the Piedmont region. Its cosy mediaeval structure is rich in churches, ancient palaces and towers. It is so well preserved that it really feels like stepping back in time to the 15th century, when the Marquisate of Saluzzo proudly held a prominent place in Italy and Europe. But the strongest testimony of this glorious past is offered by the so-called Castiglia, the fortification that towers over the village.
Why it is special
The ancient mediaeval castle reflects the history of Saluzzo: first a military stronghold, always ready to defend the independence of its town, then a stately home under French domination, and finally a prison. A structure with many souls, which still today renews itself and adapts to the present times, becoming an exhibition space for contemporary art.
Not to be missed
Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to admire the richness of the noble rooms, lost in the course of time. But looking on the bright side, this is an opportunity to discover a different, more modern castle. To help us grasp the difference between ancient and contemporary, two museums are housed in the fortress: the museum of Chivalrous Civilisation, and the museum of Prison Memory. They allow us to appreciate the distance, not only in time, that separates the different phases of the long life of the Castiglia.
A bit of history
The castle of Saluzzo dates back to the end of the 13th century. It was built on the same spot where other fortifications stood in earlier times. It is precisely this detail that is said to be at the origin of its unusual name, “Castiglia”: the term seems to derive from the Latin “castella”. meaning “castles”. The fortress complex was remodelled several times, especially during the transition from a fortification to a noble residence. A phase that also led to a sumptuous interior redecoration, which unfortunately has been lost. The decline of the fortress began in the 16th century, culminating in the early 19th century, when only the intervention of influential citizens saved the structure from demolition.
Good to know
In addition to the two museums, the fortress also houses the permanent collection of the IGAV, "Istituto Garuzzo delle Arti Visive" (a local institute of visual arts), and a section is devoted to temporary exhibitions and contemporary art. A commitment so profound that it has been acknowledged by the Italian Ministry of Arts and Culture.
Credit to: Stefano Merli