Legends and Ghost Stories
Rivalta is at the centre of many legends and ghost stories. One of these narrates that in the fourteenth century, the lord of the castle Pietro Zanardi Landi was murdered because of a feud between the lord and his brother Galvano. According to the legend, the ghost of Pietro remained in the castle until 1890, when after many centuries, the castle became property of the branch Zanardi Landi. The ghost reappeared in 1970, when a descendant of Galvano stayed overnight. Having been tormented all night, the unsuspecting guest researched the past of the castle, and discovered the narration of Pietro’s murder.
Another legendary figure is Bianchina, Obizzo Landi’s earl. Obizzo, who lived in the early fourteenth century, was a friend and ally of Galeazzo Visconti, Lord of Milan. The story narrates that Galeazzo, in love with Bianchina, tried to seduce her, but Bianchina rejected the powerful Milanese lord. Therefore, Galeazzo invaded Piacenza and Rivalta, and Obizzo allied with the Guelfs (the enemies of the Ghibellines) to reconquer Piacenza and Rivalta, finally managing to drive his former friend and ally out of the city.
The third legend originated in the eighteenth century. According to the legend, a cook named Giuseppe was killed by the butler out of jealousy, since Giuseppe and the butler’s wife were having an affair. According to tourists, family members, and guests (amongst who is Princess Margaret!) the ghost switches the light on and off, slams doors, and moves paintings and furniture across rooms. Apparently, Giuseppe is particularly active on busy days, when the castle is visited by hundreds of people.
The House of Landi
This family has ancient origins, and was first recorded as ‘De Andito’ (where Landi would be a contraction derived from saying ‘those of de andito’). The House of Landi rose to enormous importance between medieval and early modern period, when the emperor Charles V made them princes of a small state situated on the Appennines near Parma and granted them the right to strike coins. Already in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the family counted various members in the civic elite of Piacenza, the nearby city-commune that owned the lands around the city. Ubertino Landi was one of the most powerful Ghibelline lords of thirteenth-century Italy, was at the centre of many battles and historical events concerning Piacenza and the empire, and supported the imperial cause until his death in 1298.