The first historical mentions of Pozzolo date back to the 10th century. It quickly came under the influence of Tortona and the city fortified it in the late 11th century.
Along with Tortona it was conquered in 1155 by Frederick Barbarossa. In the 13th century it was ruled by the Bosco marquises before returning to Tortona. Subsequently Pozzolo was at the centre of disputes between the Viscontis of Milan and Monferrato. It was the Viscontis who fortified the village at the end of the 14th century. During the war between Milan and Monferrato in 1452 the castle was destroyed by Bartolomeo Colleoni's bombardments. The next year Colleoni had the castle rebuilt by the engineer Giovanni da Sale, giving it its current appearance, with recognizable Sforza architectural elements superimposed on top of Visconti motifs.
In 1527 it was sold to the Genoan Domenico Sauli. Descendents of the Sauli family lived in the castle for two centuries before it passed to the Scaglia family and then, through marriage, to the Morando marquises. The last Morando left it to his stepson, the lawyer G.Battista Oddini, who gave it to the Pozzolo Formigaro municipality. The castle currently serves as the town hall.
It once had a drawbridge and a postern. The embrasures for arrows can still be seen.
The keep used to be isolated from the other sections of the castle. The rear arch, which gave access to the courtyard, was protected by a strong iron grate.
The opening in the middle of the large vault was used by the castle's defenders to climb to the upper floors via a retractable ladder, after raising the drawbridges for carts and people and lowering the portcullis. It could also have served as a trap door.
The tower, a little set back compared to the line of bastions, is slightly rotated anticlockwise. Behind the merlons ran the guards' walkway, with embrasures on the corbels.
In the past, only a hanging, retractable gangway connected the keep to the central building. An access passageway was later added, sacrificing the crenellated curtain wall and the external staircase which led to the "ceremonial courtyard" on the main floor.
The elegant 17th-century wing behind the castle was added by the Sauli family.
The public can visit the castle's main halls, now used by the municipal authority.
Five muzzle-loading firearms from the National Guard (1848) are on display in the council chamber, as are 15th-century frescoes by Franceschino Boxilio and his school depicting the Madonna with Child, St Lucy, St Blaise and St Francis, taken from the church of Nostra Signora delle Ghiare.
Also from the same church are the large canvases portraying St Bovo and an unusual multi-coloured wooden sculpture. It shows the Madonna with Child holding to her bosom the Redeemer seated with the cross; inside the panels are two angels worshipping Christ (15th century).
The ceremonial hall contains a beautiful Nativity from the 18th century; a portrait of the canon Bottazzi by Tirso Capitini; a portrait of the Marquis Morando, one of a gentleman and one of a gentlewoman; and a large medallion with a photograph of G.B. Oddini.
A Roman well tomb for cremation from the 2nd century AD has been reassembled on the lower floor, including a clay lamp bearing the name FORTIS; it was found in 1958 at Zinzini, not far from the Roman road "Via Aemilia Scauri".
Local sights: church of Nostra Signora delle Ghiare, parish church of San Nicola, parish church of San Martino, Roman roads (Postumia, Aemila Scauri), "Dertonese" inscription, Zinzini Roman tomb (inside the castle), Palazzo Morando (exterior), old mill, trunere (earthern houses)
In the area: Novi, Forte di Gavi, Alto Monferrato castles, Serravalle Scrivia outlet mall
Typical products: wines (Gavi DOCG, Cortese, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Timorasso), Novi canestrelli biscuits, amaretti, Novi focaccia, farinata, corzetti (wheat pasta), Merella chickpeas, Montebore cheese
Events: summer village festival with fireworks and dances in the piazza (second Sunday in August); medieval festival with market, scenes from medieval life and military camp (September)