The Malaspina Castle of Fosdinovo stands to the north of Tuscany between the Alps and the Tyrrhenian coast (Lerici, Cinque Terre, Versilia).
The Castle is of great importance historically, and above all, architecturally. The construction of the massive fortress, which merges with the underlying sandstone rock so the whole structure seems carved in stone, began in the second half of the twelfth century. The basic design of the Castle of Fosdinovo consists of a square with four round towers, a semicircular rampart, two internal courtyards, a central courtyard , patrol trenches above the roof, hanging gardens, galleries and an ancient defensive wall.
Protected once by a drawbridge, the main gateway enters into a thirteenth century romanesque style courtyard, which is framed at the base by marble columns supporting overhead arcades. From this small courtyard, where guns were once kept at the ready to defend the castle, rises a broad flights of stairs leading to a large central courtyard.
The courtyard boasts an elegant Renaissance porch with stone columns and a beautiful sixteenth-century marble portal leading to interior rooms of the castle, which were decorated and painted pre-1800. Next are the entrance hall, the dining room with a large fireplace and pharmacy ceramics from the 1600s, the throne hall, the Dante’s Chamber, the great hall and the room of trabocchetto (the trap room) with a torture room lying below.
Today the Castle is a museum, a cultural center dedicated to the production and diffusion of contemporary arts, a retreat for artists and writers and it hosts inside a small bed and breakfast welcoming and very charming.
The first Malaspina on record, was Alberto, direct descendant of Oberto, founder of the noble and distinguished family of Obertenghi (945 a.c.). The origin of the name is the subject of many theories and legends. One, shown in a painting in the the castle, traces the origin to 540 AD when the young noble Accino Marzio revenged the death of his father by surprising the sleeping King of the Franks, Teodoboerto, by slashing his throat with a thorn. The desperate cry of the King “Ah! Mala Spina (bad thorn) ” gave rise to the surname and then the family motto ” Sum bona spina malis sum mala spina bonis”. In 1221 a.c.
Malaspina family it is divides in two branches, the Malaspina dello Spino Secco and the Malaspina dello Spino Fiorito. These last ones will take possession, between the others, of the feudo of Fosdinovo and its castle where, in 1306, Dante Alighieri (a great friend of the Malaspina) will be hosted. Even today the castle still belongs at the Malaspina family.