The Municipality of Diano Castello: a fortified village of ancient beauty

Immagine copertina del comune di Diano Castello

Gulf of Diano

The Municipality of Diano Castello: a fortified village of ancient beauty

March 09, 2020

Among centenary olive groves and vineyards stands another jewel of the Golfo Dianese: Diano Castello. This small village situated on a hill behind Diano Marina and not far from the sea, preserves the typical charm of a fortified village. As it happens in most Ligurian villages, also here the historical centre is made up of a   tangle of caruggi, that only its inhabitants can unravel.

Immagine di viti e ulivi a Diano Castello

Il territorio del Castrum Diani, uno dei borghi più belli d'Italia

Its lush appearance reminds us of an ancient peasant vocation. The territory of Diano Castello is dominated by the traditional strips, with which the Ligurians have made even the steepest hills flat. Here, where once stood the Lucus Bormani, the mildness of the climate has allowed to excel in the cultivation of some valuable  prodotti agricoli the olive tree and the vine. The olive oil of this area needs no introduction; the wine produced is the golden Vermentino. 

If we look carefully at the village, we cannot ignore its religious buildings and ancient walls, a sign of medieval fortifications defending the village. Diano Castello has been one of the most sought-after tourist destinations for some years now. Not only its high position and proximity to the sea contribute to its charm, but also the uniqueness of its history. Among the most fascinating testimonies we have the Lone, that from the subsoil of the village hand down fragments of daily life of the past.

Immagine delle lone sotterranee di Diano Castello

The story of Diano Castello

We do not know the exact date of Diano Castello's birth. It is certain that during the 10th century Saracen raids threatened the coastal villages of Liguria. The inhabitants of Diano decided to protect their families by taking refuge in the hinterland. Above a hill they erected the fortified village of Diano Castello (from the Latin Castrum: fortified place) with the aim to sight the dangers coming from the sea, and organize the defense.

We find for the first time the name of the village in 1033, in a document that declares its dependence on the Albenga Committee. The lords of the village, starting from the 11th century, were the Marquises of Clavesana. The dominion of this powerful family lasted until the XII century, when the power of the Republic of Genoa forced the feudal lords to cede part of their power to the Superba, until they sold it the remaining feudal rights in 1228.

Immagine di Piazza Clavesana

The battle of Meloria

With the end of the Clavesana Diano Castello entered the orbit of the Republic of Genoa. This was the end of the feudal era and the beginning of the communal one. Despite the political submission to the Superba, in fact, the Castrum Diani laid the foundations for its political and administrative organization thanks to the institution of the Communitas Diani.

It was in this period that the Dianians were most proud of. In 1284 an armed galley sent by the Dianese community fought valiantly alongside Genoa against Pisa in the battle of Meloria. On this occasion the destiny of the dominion of the two maritime cities over the Mediterranean was decided, and the contribution of the ship of the Dianese proved so important in the victory of the Superba, that it benefited from important tax relief and the nickname of "magnificent".

The Communitas Diani

Diano Castello organized itself in an independent municipality, although under the control of Genoa. The village was governed by a Podestà who was not local but was elected by the Parlamentum, among citizens of Genoa who had reached the age of forty. The Podestà remained in office for one year and performed administrative, judicial and military functions. His actions were controlled by the sindici, who had to establish that his decisions were taken in the interest of the citizens of Castrum Diani. The Statutes date back to 1363, written in Latin and divided into 172 paragraphs, which deal with domestic, civil, criminal and administrative law.

Immagine di un portone storico

The modern age

In modern times Diano Castello lost much of its strategic function. As a consequence of increased navigation safety, and thanks to commercial expansion, the coast began to repopulate. This led to a progressive abandonment of the medieval village of Castrum Diani.

The Communitas still lasted formally until Napoleon conquered Liguria. After the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) the village became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia and then followed the Italian destiny, with the annexation to the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

Diano Castello was also struck by the earthquake of 1887. The victims were 32 and the structural damage to the houses and monuments was enormous.

For a short period, from 1923 to 1925, the municipality was merged with the municipality of Diano Marina.

Today, on every corner of the ancient city it is impossible to ignore the traces of its history. We recommend a visit to the historic centre to discover the treasures of Diano Castello. One of the most beautiful villages in Italy.

Immagine del centro storico di Diano Castello

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