The castle of Vernazza
The Doria Castle in Vernazza was a defensive building located on a rocky spur to the south of the village and its shape is completely irregular precisely because it follows the perimeter of the same ridge. The Vernazza Castle is now one of the most scenic spots of the village.
Climbing the steep and narrow stairs to the top to admire the Doria Castle is one effort paid off by breathtaking panoramic views: on one side the sea and the picturesque cliff and on the other Vernazza, as set among vineyards and the blue.
The first group, consisting of the tower dates back to the domination of the Obertenghi in the eleventh century. In the twelfth century the village passed from the bishops of Luni to the Da Passano family and then to the Fieschi and in 1276, to put an end to a war between them, the Pisans and the Republic of Genoa signed a peace agreement in the Vatican and the village and castle passed to the Republic. During the crucial stages of the Second World War it was also used as anti-aircraft position by the German Nazi soldiers.
According to a document dating from 1470 and a map of the eighteenth century inside the castle there was a chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist which, however, is today completely untraceable. There was also a bronze cannon bearing the inscription Comunitas Vernatiæ taken by British soldiers, and still visible in the halls of the British Museum in London.
Pirates in Vernazza
Below the castle there is a quadrangular bastion that rises above the rocks at the mouth of the harbor. The exact historical dating is quite difficult, but we tend to date it back to the time of the consolidation of the Genoese dominion, when Vernazza was often attacked by pirates: Muslims coming from Andalusia or the Basque bandits who had settled in Frassineto, a town in southern France.
Over the centuries raids by pirates increased and new ships came mainly from Constantinople. The most famous of them was the pirate Dragut, an Ottoman commander who distinguished himself as one of the most warlike. In 1540 he was captured by the Doria fleet and ended up in the hands of Andrea Doria who released him in exchange of the granting of the island Tabarca. Returned to Turkey he put a new fleet together and attacked Laigueglia and Rapallo, plundering and ravaging the city. He died during the siege of Malta.
Visiting the Doria Castle in Vernazza
The Doria Castle is now guarded by the volunteers of the Public Assistance, which ensure cleanliness and hospitality.
The Castle and the tower can be visited every day from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and the ticket costs 2 €.