Italy more than any other European country has a countless collection of castle, spread out all over the territory. The surprising abundance of ancient manors is strictly linked to the intricate Italian history and its division into a constellation of small states run by ambitious gentlemen who competed to build the most impressive defensive walls and beautiful homes, both for security purposes and to feed the envy of others.
Most of these castles dominates amazing sights because their location was always carefully chosen to ensure a natural defense system and over time they have undergone radical transformations to adapt to the needs that history imposed both from the civil and military point of view.
Some of them still evoke the splendid courts who have lived there while others reveal the terrible atrocity that took place in the past but in both cases each visit is an interesting and memorable experience.
Since I was a child my dual nature was irresistibly attracted by two areas in particular: the prisons and the kitchens. Narrow terrifying the first, large and inviting the others, these two opposite areas represented to me all the good and the bad my infantile imagination could figure out about those gone times.
From the size of the fireplace that usually dominates the huge kitchens (and in some cases even represented a hidden and invisible means of escape in case of invasion), I could picture succulent roast game slowly turning on the grill to be served cooked to perfection to the Lord table, richly laid to satisfy his noble guests.
Two days a go I took my mom and my two sisters, who happened to visit us in the country side, to the Rivalta Castle a pretty big construction that is possible to see in spite of being a private home.
What is quite rare is the fact that this pretty vast property, which includes a little village and some structures that date back to the time when the area was still a productive agricultural site, belongs to the same family, counts Zanardi Landi, since its construction at the end of 1200.
In the area around the castle it was probably fought the battle on the river Trebbia between Hannibal and the roman legions in 218 BC and we say that just to make you understand how strategically important the site was.
Only 12 kilometers distant from the city of Piacenza, the Rivalta castle was surrounded by the river Trebbia, a unique condition that made it much more safe than other castles located in low land lacking such a natural defense. This was probably the reason why this particular castle has always been taken in extreme consideration and it was reconstructed and transformed in the course of the centuries according to, as we said before, the new residential and defensive needs.
In fact this original construction shows to its visitors its twofold nature: fortified and threatening castle from a distance, welcoming palace if seen up close. From each prospective though you can admire the beautiful tower designed in 1400 by the Italian architect Pietro Antonio Solari who also designed the Kremlin Borovickaja Tower in Moscow.
The all structure is very well preserved and in spite of its private nature you can follow a guide and see a good portion of the castle during an hour and a half pleasant tour.
You are not going to meet any ghost, no abandoned skeletons in the cells, no medieval cakes on the kitchen table as I wished when I was a child but you can definitely enjoy a blast from the past in this beautiful and obviously beloved residency.
If you want to practice your italian listen to the Count Landi description
Rivalta Castle Web Site