Photo courtesy of vengomatto on Flikr

On the same walk that brought Passion Fruit to my attention, Angela and I discovered the ancient walls and Tower above Chiavari.  I had no idea they were there!

Chiavari, two towns down the coast from Rapallo, is an ancient city.  A necropolis discovered near the city center suggests that there was habitation as early as the 8th – 7th century B.C.E.  and it was an important way station during Roman times.  In 1146 construction was begun on the castle which was, at that time, a military fort.   In 1178 Chiavari was appropriated by Genova, by which time it seems the castle was finished.

And this is where my paltry research breaks down.   Rapallo has a wonderful library, and I was able to find a good history of Chiavari (“La Citta’ della Liguria: Chiavari” by Franco Ragazzi and Carla Carallo, 1981), but it didn’t tell me nearly enough about the castle.  Who lived there?  Why was it pretty much dismantled in the Sixteenth century, leaving only the tower seen above and some wall segments?  More research required!  I took a picture of a lovely aquarelle illustration of the castello complex made in the first half of the Seventeenth century which is in the above mentioned book:

You can see why the location had military significance. From its hilltop perch the castle offers a splendid view of the whole bay and the Portofino peninsula.

Here is one of the sections of once extensive walls that is still standing… barely?

One of the beautiful things about Italy is the way old and new live so happily together.

Another beautiful aspect of life here is that every town offers a surprise, an “I didn’t know that” moment. Sometimes it’s as small as a special painting (about which more in a later post); other times it’s as large and obvious as a ruined castle. You simply have to look around here, and you will discover something special.