Diano Castello: one of the most beautiful villages in Italy
Today we want to offer you a visit to one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Just 20 minutes from our residence and not far from the more famous Cervo, stands Diano Castello, another jewel of the Ligurian west that we invite you to discover. This medieval village perched on a hill offers truly suggestive and unexpected views.
In this article we will tell you a little of its history and we will explain why, despite the name may deceive you, there is no trace of castles in this village!
Diano Castello and the sacred wood
Leaving the via Aurelia to take the road that leads us to Diano Castello, the surrounding nature tells us of an ancient peasant tradition. The well-known Ligurian bands stand out, with rich olive trees to frame our journey. There are, however, the luxuriant vines to turn the landscape golden and to remind us that an excellent Vermentino is produced here.
Yet, this territory that now appears to be ordered thanks to human intervention, was formerly covered with dense woods. We are talking about an era very far from us, before the Romans arrived in Liguria, so to speak. At the time, we said, this place was believed to be sacred, and that a mysterious and fearsome divinity lived there: Borman. With the arrival of the Romans, the god of the woods and springs was replaced by the goddess of hunting Diana and the sacred forest replaced with a rest station for travelers: the Lucus Bormani.
The history of Diano Castello
And here we are at the birth of the real village. We are in the Middle Ages, when, around the 10th century, Saracen raids worried the villages of the Ligurian coast, forcing the inhabitants to take refuge in the hinterland. The population created a castrum, which is a fortified village on top of a hill. The function was therefore to spot any dangers and establish a ready defense.
Access to the village was through four doors:
• Porta del Borgo, to the north;
• Porta della Marina, to the south;
• Porta del Portello di San Pietro to the east;
• Market Gate to the west;
There is no trace of castles, therefore, but the ancient walls are still clearly visible to testify the defensive purpose of Diano Castello!
The fortified village
The town is mentioned for the first time in 1033, as a village dependent on the Albenga Committee. For a long time the powerful family of the Marquis of Clavesana dominated the village, until the sale of feudal rights to the city of Genoa (1228). Strolling through the village you will surely come across the Clavesana square, which overlooks the ancient home of the marquises. The original architectural structures and ornamental motifs are still visible that will make you identify with the medieval atmosphere.
The Communitas Diani
It is worth remembering that starting from the 13th century Diano Castello was organized as an autonomous municipality, albeit under the control of Genoa. In fact, there was a parliament with a Podestà who carried out administrative and military operations, and of the Mayors to control his work. Furthermore, the Communitas Diani was created, a union between the surrounding villages, documented by the coats of arms under the Logge di Diano Castello, where the names of the villages and the dates on which they joined the communitas are still found today.
A peculiarity of Diano Castello: le Lone
The medieval layout is certainly the one that most characterizes Diano Castello. Some structures that few know about also date back to this period: the Lone. These are ancient tanks for the collection of rainwater, dug by hand during the Middle Ages. The Lone allowed the inhabitants of the village to survive the sieges thanks to the availability of water, and still today they help the farmers to water their gardens. However, not all Lones are visible: most, in fact, are located inside private homes. To get an idea, however, you can visit one that is always open. You can find it next to the convent of the Poor Clares, a few steps from the Logge in via Meloria.
The Romanesque churches
But the medieval charm of Diano Castello can also be found in two small jewels within the historic center. We are talking about the Romanesque churches of the Madonna dell’Assunta and San Giovanni Battista. Their simple architectural structures hide within them a treasure trove of beauties among wall paintings, altarpieces and painted wooden ceilings! We advise you not to miss these treasures if you really want to know the history of this village. To better admire the beauty that Diano Castello offers, for example, you can book a guided tour with the cultural association Giroborgo, which also allows you to see some Lones inside private properties!
To enrich the experience of your holiday, we suggest you include a visit to some of the most beautiful villages in Italy on the list of things to do. They are often found around Loano, and we are sure it will be added.