Castello dei Doria is a castle located on a rocky ridge about 70 meters high, in Vernazza. The castle was named after the Doria family, originally from Genoa, one of the most important noble families in the history of Italy.
The first informations about a castle in Vernazza dates back to the 13th century, but it is believed that the first nucleus of the building dates back to the 11th century, and that it was built during the domination of the Obertenghi, a family of Italian nobility descended from Count Obert I of Luni.
In particular, the cylindrical tower, which currently stands in the middle of the castel’s terrace, and which was restored during the 20th century, is the oldest part of the fortification.
In the 12th century, the castle and the village of Vernazza passed to the bishops of Luni, to the Da Passano family and then to the Fieschi in the second half of the century. Occupied in the same century by Pisa, in the attacks related to the Battle of Meloria, in which also sailors and ships from Vernazza participated, the castle soon returned into the hands of the Genoese.
During the crucial phases of the Second World War, it was used as an anti-aircraft station by the soldiers of Nazi Germany.
The castle has an irregular shape following those of the rock spur on which is built. The current appearance is the result of centuries of additions and alterations.
According to a document dating back to 1470 and to an 18th century map, inside the castle was a chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist, but today the traces have been completely lost. Also, inside the castle, now used as a museum and exhibition site, was a bronze cannon that was taken by the British soldiers after the Second World War, and can be seen today in the British Museum in London.
HOW TO GET THERE
Vernazza is a small place and, coming from the train station, you will surely notice the tower of the Doria Castle. To reach the castle, you must climb some steep stairs, but the view from the top will be worth it.