Castel San Giovanni
A Spanish fortress on the Becchignolo
Castel San Giovanni was built by the Spanish in the 17th century and is characterised by impressive pincer walls: from its terraces there is a wonderful view of Finalborgo, the surrounding valleys and the sea. It fits perfectly into the hillside above the town and it can be reached with a five-minute walk along the ancient Beretta road.
Castel San Giovanni rises along the ridge that dominated the town of Finalborgo, between the Pora and Aquila valleys. It was built in the first forty years of the 1600s around a pentagonal medieval tower. Following the Lombard engineer Francesco Prestinos project the complex is part of the Spanish fortifications built to defend the Finale marquisate and were constructed during the Spanish dominion on the territory.
MORE INFORMATION – Castel San Giovanni
Thanks to its position the fort has a vast view of the surrounding valleys and of the historic centre of Finalborgo, from which is distant only 500 m and can be reached on foot along the Beretta road. The road was built in the same years and from Porta Mezzaluna climbs up the ridge to Castel Gavone and linked the area to the duchy of Milan.
Modernised and widened during the 17th century San Giovanni fort was partially demolished in 1713 by the Genoese and, after a period of abandonment, in 1822 was used by the Savoia government as a prison, activity that it maintained until the beginning of the 20th century.
Its current appearance is due to the restoration work carried out at the end of the last century.
Fitting perfectly in the landscape the fort is characterised by the presence of watch towers in the corners and by the tall pincer walls of the southern front.
The entrance to the complex is on the north side and immediately meets a two-story building with the prison cells (on the slates around the doors 18th century graffiti can still be seen, sketched by the prisoners). At the centre of the complex there is the central tower, the “main tower”, that incorporates the pre-existing medieval tower, while on the southern side there is a building that is set on three levels, of which the lowest one faces directly the parade ground of the fort.
All of the spaces of the fort can be visited, including a small chapel and an ancient kitchen in which the fireplace can still be seen in the wall; from the terraces and the openings in the watch towers one can see various different views of the surrounding territory.
HOW TO REACH
CASTEL SAN GIOVANNI
How to reach the site
Castel San Giovanni can be reached with a five-minute walk, or by bike, uphill along the ancient Beretta road or downhill from Perti Sant’Eusebio.
The fortress belongs to the Ligurian museum complex and is managed by the historic centre of Finale that organises the openings and the visits.
Forte San Giovanni is a seat for events and exhibitions.
It has free entry and it is possible to have guided tours on specific occasions and on request.
Bookings for tours of the church are available as part of the “Open door Open art” Project endorsed by MUDIF.
Calendar of visits