Visite guidate

Guided tours

Visite guidate

From Saturday, 2 March 2019, to Sunday, 10 November 2019 (the entire month of AUGUST)

Saturday, Sunday and holidays: from 2:30 PM to 6:00 PM, no reservations required.
The duration of the guided tour is 60 minutes.

Weekday tours can be arranged, but only for groups of 15 people or more (bookings must be made at least 48 hours in advance)

Full price: € 10.00 - adults
Reduced: € 8.00 - lower secondary school children
Reduced: € 6.00 - primary school children and teachers

The visit itinerary aims to show the monumental complex of the Castle of Chignolo Po and to enhance the history of its centuries-old royal fiefdom and of its task along the Via Francigena. Visits are only guided as the Castle is a private residence.
Please note that it is not possible to take photographs inside the monument.


The oldest part of the Castle, originally a fortress erected on high ground, is the great Tower, from which it was possible to control a long stretch of the Po River (Cuneulus super Padum). It is believed to have been built by King Luitprand around 740 C.E., when Pavia was the capital of the Lombards. Its purpose was to serve as a fortress and a stronghold for the defence of the Po and the “Via di Monte Bardone”, which subsequently came to be known as the Via Francigena-Romea, connecting Northern Europe with Rome.
In 910 C.E., King Berengar I gave the Rocca, or fortress, to the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Saint Cristina, located just a few kilometres away, of which it became an integral part.
In 990, Sigeric, the Archbishop of Canterbury, travelling along the Via Francigena on his way back from Rome to Canterbury, designated the Abbey of Saint Cristina, with its Castle, as the 40th stopover (station) along that route.
Just outside the fortress to the north rises a tiny fortified hamlet, part of the castle complex and completely rebuilt in 1600. It consists of a complex of buildings whose entrance is protected by a moat, two watchtowers, and four defensive towers set outside the walls on the hamlet's far sides.
In 1251, the Abbot of the Abbey of Saint Cristina appointed a feudatory Lord to take stewardship of the Castle and the extensive lands associated with it. It did not take long after that for the Castle to become, beginning in the 13th century, one of the most important Lombard fiefdoms. It was ruled over by the Pusterla family until 1340, when they became involved in a conspiracy against the Visconti family and were ruthlessly exterminated.

Card image cap

The Pusterla were followed by the Federici and the Cusani, who increased the Castle's power, receiving an ongoing stream of privileges and grants from the Kings and from the Dukes of Milan.
The Cusani family retained their role as the feudal Lords of the Chignolo Po Castle until 1796, when feudal domains were abolished as a result of the French Revolution.
Between 1700 and 1730, the castle was enlarged and transformed from a Medieval fortress into a genuine 18th-century palace, which was to host Popes, Emperors, Kings, Princes and Archdukes. Meanwhile, artists from the school of Tiepolo were entrusted with the creation of the stuccoes and paintings that adorn the rooms of the castle destined for receiving and entertaining guests.
The work was commissioned and financed by the property’s then owner, Cardinal Agostino Cusani Visconti (1655 - 1730), who served as the Pope’s Ambassador to the Republic of Venice and to the Court of Louis XIV in Paris.


The Roman architect Giovanni Ruggeri called in tradesmen, sculptors and painters from Venice and France to take charge of:

  • the construction of the grand park, which stretches over 30 hectares of land around the castle;
  • the construction, in the centre of the park and facing a little lake, of a marvellous Baroque building called the “Tea Palace” or the “Palazzina della caccia”;
  • the construction of gardens, gazebos, nymphaea and fountains just outside the castle;
  • the construction of the Cour d’honneur, or ceremonial courtyard, decorated with the Cardinal's episcopal coat of arms and complete with an elegant little bridge that spanned the moat, connecting the courtyard to the garden;
  • the construction of the entire east wing, containing spectacular guest quarters, including the famous “Pope’s apartment”, dedicated to Pope Clement XI, and a bedroom which has hosted Napoleon Bonaparte as well as the Emperor of Austria, Franz Joseph I Hapsburg.

As a result of these grand projects, the Chignolo Po Castle became known as the
“Versailles of Lombardy”

Visite guidate