by Barbara Palladino
The Castle of Torrechiara rises next to the medieval town of the same name in Langhirano, in the province of Parma.
On its rocky hill, it still has the powerful profile of a fortress and the elegance of an aristocratic home. It was built in the 1400s by Count Pier Maria II de’ Rossi – a condottiero at the service of the Visconti and Sforza families in Milan, also known as The Magnificent – for his lover, Bianca Pellegrini. Today, the structure remains almost unchanged, with three rows of crenellated walls, four angular towers and patrol walkways.
Legend has it that when there is a full moon, the ghost of the condottiero returns to the Rio delle Favole, the road leading to the fortress, repeating the Latin motto “nunc et semper” (“now and forever”), which echoes the words in the frescoes of the famous Gold Room: “in aeternum” (“for eternity”).
At the time, the couple’s room had terracotta tiles covered in gold. Today, we can only imagine the impact they had on anyone entering, as the bright sun or dazzling fireplace lit up the walls with flashes or flickers of light. It obviously was a beautiful setting the Count had designed to wow his beloved. Hardly any trace of the gilded finishing is left today, while the frescoes by Benedetto Bembo survive in the vault ceiling’s lunettes, representing the love story between Bianca and Pier Maria, surrounded by symbols and allegories celebrating everlasting love.
Castle of Torrechiara
Borgo del Castello, 1