The village of Vigoleno with its castle is an imposing fortified complex in the province of Piacenza on the border with that of Parma, in the municipality of Vernasca. Part of "The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy," it has fortunately survived to us intact in all its parts and is a particularly beautiful example of a medieval fortified village. Situated on the ridge between the Ongina and Stirone valleys on a relief of no great height, it dominates the surrounding hills.
Important is the castle, whose foundation dates back to the 10th century but whose earliest documented date is 1141 when it was an outpost, on the road to Parma, of the Commune of Piacenza. Possession passed through many hands, mainly it was of the Scotti family, saw the Pallavicino, Piccinino, Farnese, and was destroyed and rebuilt several times. In 1922 Princess Ruspoli Gramont had it restored and made it a venue for social gatherings; Gabriele D'Annunzio, actor Douglas Fairbanks, Max Ernst, Alexandre lacovleff, Jean Cocteau, film diva Mary Pickford, writer Elsa Maxwell, and pianist Arthur Rubinstein passed within its walls. In the early 1980s it was the scene of part of the filming of Richard Donner's "Lady Hawke" starring Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer.
No less interesting is the old town, completely surrounded by the crenellated city wall and entirely passable on the ancient patrol path. It has a single entrance through a ravelin, with a peculiar rounded shape, which protected the real entrance gateway. The heart of the village is the square, with a central fountain, overlooked by: the keep, the residential part of the castle, the oratory and the cistern. It has an imposing keep of quadrangular plan with loopholes, corbels and Ghibelline battlements. It houses museum rooms with historical and photographic documents. A patrol walkway connects it to the second tower and from there to the residential part.
The village continues with a small group of houses clustered around the parish church of San Giorgio, a 12th-century Romanesque church that has undergone Renaissance and Baroque remodeling but, thanks to restoration in 1963, now has its original, austere and imposing appearance. The facade is embellished by a carved portal with small columns with leafy capitals and in the lunette a sculpture depicting St. George. There are few traces of frescoes, St. George in the 15th-century apse and St. Benedict on a pillar, dated July 19, 1427. The bell tower, of quadrangular plan, is surmounted by mullioned windows with two lights. Worth visiting is the Oratory of Santa Maria, a small, elegant and sober 18th-century building with a cross plan. It overlooks the small square with a small flight of steps. Today it is used for exhibitions and small concerts given its perfect acoustics.
(Source: wikivoyage)