The dialect they keep on speaking today, rich of Ligurian words and sounds, is a proof. Many Greek and Roman historians, among all Polibio, Tito Livio and Strabone, gave us information about this theme, considering this population as a branch of the Celtics.
But, this is just the beginning… Around the 7th century, the Arimanni, a tribe created by some free Longobard warriors, settled down in the woods around the massive rock where the castle would have been built centuries later: they named the village Bardi.
However, the place name Bardi has controversial origins: accordingly to the legend, the term would come from “Bardus” or “Barrio”, the last elephant of Hannibal’s army, which probably died in this place during the march on Rome. In his memory, Hannibal would have founded a colony.
The castle is dominating the territory of Bardi: it was built on the top of a red jasper rock by the end of the 9th century, right where the Noveglia creek converge with the Ceno creek. The raids of the Hungarian, in that time, pushed the people to find a safe shelter, so they began building castles. Not everyone knows that, right now, the fortress of Bardi is the second biggest fortress of Europe.
Around the year 1000, the bishops of Piacenza inherited the castle and they left it, in the beginning of the 13th century, to a group of local nobles known as “the counts of Bardi”. In the middle of the 1200s it was sold to Ubertino Landi, member of the Landi Family from Piacenza, Ghibellines counts, who always stayed loyal to the Empire. In 1255 the rivals Pallavicino destroyed castle, but it was immediately rebuilt.
The castle, originally projected as military post, was then enlarged and modified when Bardi become capital of a small independent State. No counting the short time it belonged to the Visconti, lords of Milan, the castle was for more than four centuries the luxurious residence of the Landi Family. They also received the licence, from the emperor Carlo V, to mint coins, turning the feud into a marquisate. Nevertheless, once extinguished the dynasty of the Landi, the territory became more and more decentralised.
In 1682 Ranuccio II Farnese, Duke of Parma, took Bardi, so it became part of the Land of Parma and Piacenza, and remained part of it during the time of the Kingdom of Italy. When Italy turned into a Republic, it was divided into provinces, so Bardi ended up being part of the province of Piacenza. It was only in 1923 that it was transferred to the province of Parma.
In the end of the 1800s, a very large number of people from Bardi migrate to other countries, mostly to France, Great Britain, Canada and the United States.
During the World War II, in the territory of Bardi there were harsh battles, retaliation and executions between the Nazi troops and the partisan’s brigades. Despite the big raid of January 1945, the partisans made it to control the territory, keeping on fighting until the Liberation.
Beyond the notorious castle of Bardi, among the noteworthy historical-artistic goods, there is the church of the Saint Mary of Sorrows that has conserved the altarpiece of the “Marriage of Saint Catherine, John the Evangelist and John the Baptist”, a juvenile work of Parmigianino.
Moroello and Soleste: between legend and supernatural
Have you already read the story of Moroello and Soleste?
If the answer is yes, you can keep reading this follow-up. If the answer is no… what are you waiting for? Go reading the tale!
The Castle of Bardi was subject to several studies. The first persons to be interested in the building and its history were Michele Dinicastro and Daniele Gullà, two parapsychologist from Bologna, founders of the Laboratorio Interdisciplinare di Ricerca Biopsicocibernetica (cross-thematic laboratory of bio-psycho-cybernetic research of Bologna). In October 1999, they could take a picture of a male figure by using an X-ray sensitive thermic-camera. The spectre could have been the spirit of Moroello…
Today the castle is notorious to the enthusiasts of paranormal activities and multiples are the testimonies of who assisted to weird manifestations: starting from contrasting smells inside the same room, to the hearing of men voices and drums in completely empty spaces. One night, for example, a group of scout heard noises that sounded like conversations inside a room that was once a tavern. This and other phenomena have in common the fact of happening in the night-time, when the castle is closed to the public.
Several mediums walked down the castle rooms in the lasts decades, and many of them, during the visit, were purposely kept unaware of the story of Moroello and Soleste. A medium said to have felt melancholic feelings while getting close to the bastion of the fortress where, accordingly to the legend, Soleste fall. He said also to have seen a suffering woman wandering around, as she was waiting for someone to arrive.
What mostly strikes is that different mediums, during time, felt similar sensations, without knowing the story of Moroello and Soleste.
Among the data collected with several researches undertaken by teams of parapsychologist, there are also some audio evidence: once happened, for example, that everyone who was in the patio everyone said to hear drum roll, even though there was not any festival or manifestation around.
About the studies of Dinicastro and Gullà, in the picture they took with a special photographic camera, able to detect variation of colors, it is possible to spot the shape of a human being. It looks like the silhouette of a knight with his armor, dating back to the 15th century – as some researchers said – that was the time of the commander Moroello. Form the image you can also spot a stain that could be blood: the story says, actually, that Moroello was injured in his arm during the last battle.
If I made you curious and you feel like a ghost hunter, why don’t you decide to take a night guided tour inside the fortress?