About three weeks ago with our friends R&M, we drove to the hills to a village called Compiano, where we had a special dinner booked. The village is best known in the area for a very nice (and expensive) retirement home, but most of all for its beautiful castle.
Built on a rocky spur which dominates the river Taro, the castle is similar to a projection from the surrounding fortified walls. Built in the XII century, it survived a serious fire in 1283; it belonged to the Malaspina family until 1164 and subsequently to the Landi family (1192), who lost it to Filippo Maria Visconti (1428) and to Niccolò Piccinino, commander in the Duke of Milan’s army. It was only in 1448 that Manfredo III Landi recovered possession of the feud and of the manor house thanks to Francesco Sforza, and in 1551 the Landi family made it the centre of their state with the imperial right to coin their own currency. The decline of the castle coincided with the arrival of the Farnese family, who became the owners in 1682.
During the reign of Marie Louise it was first transformed into a prison in the Duchy, then became the site of a female college. The last proprietor was the Marquise Lina Raimondi Gambarotta, who bequeathed it in 1987, with all its furnishings and a precious collection of ‘objets d’art’ to the Municipality, who partially opened it up to the public.
The layout is in the shape of an irregular pentagon with battlements, trapdoors, and four towers: the square one and round one are on opposite sides, and two semi-circular ones on the other sides; an out jutting fortification is found in a strategic position and a ramp in round stones is bordered by mouldings.
The windows were largely rebuilt in the 19th century. The castle was clearly designed and built for defensive purposes; its elevated position in the Taro valley provides very little space externally for any formal ceremonies.
At present the castle is open to the public with guided visits.
The Gambarotta Collection is housed inside the castle: the former owner’s furnishings and furniture, as well as the exhibition “English Horizons”, objects belonging to the English Freemasonry, and an exhibition of the coins minted in Compiano. The three rooms dedicated to this museum contain precious relics, such as medallions, paintings, and honours belonging to the British Masonic symbolism used in the 18th and 19th Century; one of the rooms, called room 33, holds various Italian relics and objects displayed by the Italian Masonic association Grande Oriente d’Italia – Palazzo Giustiniani.
Unfortunately there was a very long queue because that day the entry was free and considering we visited it once before, we’d rather have a walk through the village and its little bio market (I just had a glimpse of the tables set for the dinner, nice uhu?).
The market was not so special but we had some tastings of very good cheese and jam…
The oldest part of the village is very charming in itself and really worth a slow walk paying attention to every corner, like a deconsecrated church, now a smith workshop and showroom….
or the one dedicated to St. Terenziano, still celebrating Mass, with beautiful Murano glass chandeliers
Just wandering around looking at old and renovated houses, doors and windows was so nice….
Following the old walls and retracing our steps, we went back at the foot of the castle to check our names on the dinner list….
In the waiting we enjoyed a little talk and the beautiful view….
The dinner was a little expensive but really worth it! It was a sort of contest between two chefs and their staff, I even don’t know who won at the end but it’s not really important because we had really great food and part of the proceeds went to charity…..(sorry, not all the photos are good but the light under the tent was really bad)
Smoked swordfish, squid and shrimps…
fresh and roasted Parma ham with Parmesan cheese mousse and cream….
smoked ham, ricotta, tomatoes and a little frittata….
scallops in white wine sauce…
various fishes tartare with fresh fruit….
strawberry mousse with fresh fruit….
chocolate and chestnut cake…
chocolate cake and mint ice cream….
Oh, what a beautiful day it was….