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The Castle

Overlooks the valley from its rock

From the mound it stands on and in spite of its many transformations over the years, the castle of Montesegale still reveals its imposing shape and that invulnerability that has always made it stand out. The current outline of the Castle was given by the Gambarana Counts.

On 8th August 1164, Federico Barbarossa granted many villages and castles in the Staffora Valley to Pavia, including Montesegale. In a short time the feud passed to the Palatini Counts and then to the Gambarana Counts in 1311, who became of Lords of Montesegale. The Palatine Counts were established by Charlemagne and were granted many privileges and decorations, which were repeatedly confirmed by several emperors up to Charles V.

In 1412 Facino Cane besieged Pavia and confirmed the feud of Montesegale to the Gambarana Counts. The war between Facino Cane and Filippo Maria became harsher and, three years later, Francesco Bussone, known as Il Carmagnola, conquered all the towns that had rebelled under the rule of Giovanni Maria. In September 1415, the Castle of Montesegale was heavily damaged by the Carmagnola Counts and the soldiers that garrisoned it were captured and taken to Voghera and Pavia, for the Lords of Montesegale did not want to to be under the rule of the Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti.

In 1416 the Duke took the Castle away from them again, seizing its goods and giving them away as presents or selling them off.

On 4th July 1432 Paolo Serratico obtained the feuds of Montesegale and Pizzocorno.

On 22nd April 1451 Count Palatino Ottino Gambarana, the son of Guido and his relatives' heir, obtained from the Sforza Count the honours of the past and the goods once owned by the other Gambarana members, including the stronghold of Montesegale. In the following years, the bishops of Tortona repeatedly confirmed the feud of Montesegale to the Gambarana Counts, which passed from Andrea to Ludovico and Angelo Marco Gambarana. On 30th August 1646, the feud passed to the Count Gerolamo Gambarana. The Castle is now the property of the Jannuzzelli family.

The building
On the right of the square, dedicated to Nassirya's fallen and where Montesegale's Town Hall stands, the road climbs up, skirting the castle's ancient walls, until it reaches the manor's main entrance with its splendid Oratory, dedicated to Saint Andrea, to the right. The main, beautifully carved, front door leads you into the castle.

Once inside its walls, you find yourself standing in its rustic courtyard from where you can easily admire the other buildings, built in exposed brickwork in the oldest wing of this complex, inside which you can see a expertly made, pointed arch in smooth stone. These buildings overlook another rise which takes you to a higher open space, closed in by a surrounding wall with battlements, that was rebuilt in 1900 by Agostino Gambarotta. On its right hand side, a small door leads into the 'noble' or 'master' courtyard, at the side of which you can read an epigraph in Latin, which says “Fiat pax in virtute tua et habondantia in turribus tuis”.

A beautiful porch with polygon columns and floors in angular, terracotta tiles stands inside, from where you pass into the large, vaulted-ceiling reception room with its striking, wide, sandstone fireplace which was made in 1906 by Giovanni Cavanna to take the place of a more antique, yet less well-made, fireplace. You can also see a characteristic well, some more or less antique rooms and cellars with archivolts.

Returning to the book 'Il Pavese montano' by Filippo Mancinelli, published in 1922, we gather that “you entered the castle by a 18th century door” and that “in one of the interior rooms, placed over a fireplace, the engraved, Gambarana crest with its coat-of-arms.

Outside the castle is the ice-house which was once used to preserve food: it is still today in excellent condition.

The Gambarana family constructed the manor in various and different periods. The most ancient part is that facing south; it was enlarged by its feudatories in the 14th century. The fortress is situated on the orographic side of the Ardivestra stream, standing on a summit looking from east to west, 426 metres above sea level. The most ancient part was restored by Count, Senator Andrea Gambarana di Langosco, in the 17th century.

The Museum of Contemporary Art
As well as being used as a private residence, in 1975 the Museum of Contemporary Art was set up in three of the castle's magnificent rooms. It was inaugurated with an exhibition of the works of Orfeo Tamburi, who was presented by Giovanni Testori, Raffaele Degrada and Alberico Sala. The task that the museum has set itself is to organize various events during the year, especially in summer. Moreover, it is here that exhibitions of contemporary artists take place. Over the years, works of many important artists have been exhibited amongst whom are: Ernesto Treccani, Maria Luisa Simone, Roberto Crippa, Paola Grott, Luisa Pagano, Dino Grassi, and Francesco Del Drago, Giovanni Frangi, Boris Mardesic, Julian Schnabel and many others. The museum also keeps an eye on the future of art and thanks to the restoration of some buildings, accomodation has been arranged for six talented and promising youngsters: artists who will have the chance to create their own works of art right here.

Saint Damian's Fair Mauro Nespoli The products the church The landscape De.Co La panchina contemplativa di Omar Hassan The Castle at sunset