Its glorious ruins testify its troubled and afflicted past, but also give strong suggestion for legends that still living in the small town of Roccalanzona.
There are different ways to reach to the fortress: one of those begin from the town of Ramiola and is called “Strada di Maria Longa”. It is an anchient way on the ridge and it was known as the easy way to get to the sea from the Padana Plane, avoiding the danger of the route by the River.
Some kilometers down the uncontaminated nature, you can admire what is left of the Castle of Roccalanzona. Of the ancient fortress, represented by Benedetto Bembo in 1463 inside the castle of Torrechiara, only few parts still standing: part of the walls and a part of a room ending in a vaulted ceiling.
This Castle has a thousand-year old history: it is mentioned in a parchment dating back to the 4th of July of 1028, which is today stored in the in the State Archive of Piacenza. In this document is written that Ildegarda, wife of Oddone Gauselmo, a Longobard, sold lands, courts and castles, among which there was the “Roccha Petraluizoni cum portione Castro et Capella ibi habente”. This testify that there was also a chapel – Capella – by the castle: it was very likely the church of Saint Michele Archangel, demolished in 1739, in order to build another one down the valley, which still existing.
In 1295, the fortress was dismantled after a decree that ordered the destruction of the castle and other buildings belonging to rebellious families. The information we have of this time are scarce: it seems like the castle belonged to the Pallavicino Family. The sure thing is that it was transferred to the ownership of the Rossi, probably in the beginning of the 1300s. Almost a century later, it belonged to Pier Maria Rossi, who built also the fortress of the Rossi of San Secondo and renamed the Roccalanzona one as “Rocha Leone”, with a clear reference to the family crest: the ramping lion.
There were many conquist attempt carried out by enemies; one among all saw the Sforza Family, supported by the Pallavicino, fighting against the Rossi in 1482.
In the end on the 1400s, the castle was transferred to the ownership of Bertrando, son of Pier Maria II (whose name is related usually to the Castle of Torrechiara and to the one of Roccabianca).
In 1666 the marques Scipione I de’ Rossi had to give the castle and other lands to the Ducal Chamber of Parma. At the time, the building had already lost his internal walls.
In 1692, the marques Agostino Ercolani from Senigallia bought it, and he did never care about its structure, that were already collapsing. More than a century later after the Napoleon regulation that abolished the feuds, the castle became private property.
An important finding
In 1834, Giacomo Dazzo and Pietro Torrigiani found two stones, used as cover of a well, with some inscriptions on it, close to Pagano, almost a kilometer away from the Castle of Roccalanzona. The important document found was the Pietra Giubilare – jubilee stone –, engraved by order of a certain Giacomo Valenti. The purposes were probably two: to record the first Jubilee wanted by Pope Bonifacio VIII in the 1300; to divulge the Jubilee Calendar that included, every hundred years, the plenary indulgence.
Maybe the object was one piece in a first time and, analysing the engraved words on the stone, they could assume that it was placed, for Valenti’s will, inside the oratory of Casara (a town near to Pagano).
The hypothesis would be disproved by the fact that in some medieval documents found, there is not any mentions about any church, not in Pagano nor in Casara; for this reason it has been assumed that the work had been probably stored in the ancient church of Saint Michele Archangel in Roccalanzona, demolished in the 1700s.
Those plates are now in the National Gallery of Parma.
Tiziano Marcheselli, “Fantasmi e leggende dei castelli parmensi”, Umberto Nicoli Editore
Giovanni Finadri, “Castelli sconosciuti del Parmense”, Stamperia scrl, 2012
Guglielmo Capacchi, “Castelli Parmigiani”, Silva Editore 1997