The castle is believed to be the oldest in Monferrato, and appears on a map from 856. Built on an almost-inaccessible tufa spur, from which it dominates the valley and surrounding plains, it was originally a sighting tower, later equipped with granaries for food reserves and quarters for recovery. Feeling protected, the first inhabitants of the current village settled immediately below the fort.
Aleramo, the founder of the marquises of Monferrato line, held his court here; at the time it was a travelling court. The castle, clinging to the top of the hill, was unconquerable because of its position and external defences. Additionally it had a well that could only be reached from the interior via a long underground passage dug out of the tufa, which helped the inhabitants hold out against sieges.
Over time the castle’s feudatories were the counts of Lomello, the Vercelli church and William VI of Monferrato, known as “the great”, who in the 13th century further strengthened the fortifications with higher walls on the north side. The castle resisted many attacks and fires, particularly in the period of the Monferrato succession and the era of the Gonzagas.
The last feudal lords of San Giorgio, the Gozani family, enhanced the castle with the dramatic 18th-century façade with progressively receding masses, the large U-shaped staircase and the two arches that mark the south and north entrances.
The Gozanis were responsible for the 18th-century construction of the hanging garden’s perfectly proportioned chapel, designed by Ferroggio, a pupil of Juvarra.
The architect Bollati designed the southern façade in neo-gothic style in 1870: divided horizontally, it recedes to form a terrace on the third floor, from which, without having to climb up the tower, one can enjoy a spectacular view of the Alps, from Monviso to Monte Rosa, and from the rolling Monferrato hills to the Lomellina plains.
Local sights: parish church of San Giorgio
In the area: Casale Monferrato, Basso Monferrato castles, wineries
Typical products: wines (Barbera del Monferrato, Barbera d'Asti, Grignolino del Monferrato Casalese, Grignolino d'Asti, Rubino di Cantavenna, Gabiano and Malvasia di Casorzo, all DOC; Bonarda, Freisa and Moscato; and finally, new to the market but from an ancient tradition, Barbesino)
Sports: nearby: outdoor and indoor swimming pools, tennis, five-a-side football
Events: patron saint’s day dedicated to San Giorgio, Riso&Rose in May