Castle of Varigotti
The Byzantine and medieval castle that protected the ancient harbour
Set atop the promontory of Monte Lunante, the walls and the towers of the castle of Varigotti were meant to protect the natural harbour down below in the bay on the eastern side. It is known as the Baia dei Saraceni.
What remains of the Byzantine castle are some walls in the north-western part of the plateau, in the upper part close to the path. Close by a few burials were discovered, while amphora tombs came to light on the slope in the area of the ancient church of San Lorenzo.
MORE INFORMATION – Castle of Varigotti
A Merovingian chronicler, known as the pseudo-Fredegar, in his Chronicle tells of how during the Lombard invasion of 643 king Rothari destroyed Varicottis and wrecked its walls.
During the Middle Ages, between the 12th and 14th century, new walls were built which are preserved on the eastern side of the promontory.
In the natural cave of Punta Crena, that opens onto a small beach, evidence of a frequentation on behalf of medieval sailors, that used the area for shelter and had lit fires there, was discovered.
On top of the hill, close to the original entrance of the castle, a tall tower was built, of which today remains only the square base.
In 1341, at the end of a violent war, Genoa destroyed the castle and the harbour below was buried. The marquis Giorgio Del Carretto was imprisoned for a few years in the Genoese prison of Malapaga.
The towers of the medieval castle, as well as the tower-lighthouse set on the rocks at the entrance of the harbour, are depicted in a life like drawing with a bird’s eye perspective made by Domenico Revello in 1584.
Another small watchtower rose in the area facing the sea. It was rebuilt in the 19th century when an embrasure was built in front of it in order to dominate the sea.
In the dry-stone walls large green stones, called ophiolites, can still be found and are considered to have been used as ballasts of the ships that stationed in the bay.
The promontory is currently part of a protected archaeological and naturalistic area.
HOW TO REACH
CASTLE OF VARIGOTTI
How to reach the site
The site can be reached on foot from the Via Aurelia from the path that starts from the road on the promontory where the path that heads to the church of San Lorenzo starts.
The visit is free. There are guided tours and educational workshops that are organised by the environmental guide association “Finale Natura”.
Calendar of visits