In Gropparello, a picturesque village in the province of Piacenza nestled in the verdant Vezzeno Valley, stands a majestic medieval castle, which is also home to Italy’s first Emotional Park and has now become a model in the edutainment sector. Particularly suitable for families with children, the castle represents an invaluable treasure of history and art lying, in the midst of an emerald-green forest, on the coast of a vertiginous overhang of azure rocks speckled with white flowers, from which it overlooks a gorge at the bottom of which flows the Vezzeno stream.
Reachable from our farmhouse in about 1 1/2 hours by car, the castle is a magnificent example of the art of fortification. Its origins date back to the 8th century, when at the behest of Charlemagne it was built on the site of an ancient Roman castrum, placed to defend the road to Velleia. Donated by Charlemagne to the Bishop of Piacenza Giuliano II in 808, it passed into the possession of various families, including the Pallavicino, Sforza and Campofregoso families, although it was with the Anguissola family that the period of great splendor began for the fiefdom. The fortress, which is perfectly preserved, has undergone renovations and extensions over the centuries, although its present appearance is the result of a makeover carried out in the late 1800s by architect Camillo Guidotti for Count Ludovico Marazzani-Visconti.
Today the castle is one of the most famous and popular children’s castles in Italy, in fact, here the little ones are catapulted into a magical adventure where, dressed as knights, they face trials and dangers. Guarding the castle is a magical forest, known as the Fairy Tale Park, a real themed trail among fairy tale characters: ladies, knights, fairies, elves, ogres and goblins. For children it is a fun adventure into fantasy and the past, during which they are tasked with helping the White Knight defend the castle from the assaults of ravenous ogres or power-hungry witches. The path to discover the fairy tales and magical beings of the forest presents no difficulty and is absolutely suitable even for young children.
Various activities dedicated to children are organized at the castle during the year (Medieval Market, Court Wedding, Siege of St. John, Table of Kings, Merlin), so there is no shortage of opportunities to visit! For the older ones, in the Medieval Tavern, charming banquets, such as the “Banquet of the Nobles,” always available by reservation. At the castle you can also visit the botanical garden and the Museum of the Rising Rose.
Like all self-respecting castles, Gropparello’s castle also has its mysteries; in fact, legend has it that it is haunted by a ghost, that of the unhappy Rosania Fulgosio, who was allegedly walled up alive by her husband, Pietrone da Cagnano, for having betrayed him during an absence from the castle. On certain nights groans and moans are heard in the castle while the figure of a young woman manifests in some rooms. The room where she was walled up, in any case, has never been found.
For more information visit the official web site of Castello di Gropparello.
AGRITURISMO IL BRUGNOLO
Welcome to il Brugnolo
If you’re looking for completely independent apartments surrounded by greenery you really are in the right place here!
In fact, Brugnolo is immersed in the green nature of the Emilian countryside. For your relaxation, for that of your children, and again for the runs of your 4-legged friends, you will have 6000 square meters of park at your disposal!