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Legends and Curiosities

Currently the Rivalta Castle is made up of around fifty rooms, part of which is open to guided tours, part of which is intended for private residence. Rivalta Castle is open for guided tours every day of the year except December 25th.

Bianchina's novel

Among historically documented facts and others enriched by imaginative news, there is an event that deserves our attention and which was taken up in a successful nineteenth-century novel by Luigi Marzolini.
The story tells how the relationships of mutual esteem and loyalty between the Landi family and that of the Visconti suddenly broke down. It all began in 1322, when the feudal lord of Rivalta was the aforementioned Obizzo Landi, known as Verzuso. The brave soldier of the Ghibelline faith, thanks also to the support of his friend Galeazzo Visconti, found himself having to take sides against the latter for reasons that were anything but political. In fact, it seems that Galeazzo's increasingly frequent visits to Rivalta were due to his interest, not so much in his friend Obizzo, but in Bianchina, the latter's beautiful wife.
One day while she was alone in Piacenza, she received a message from Galeazzo urgently inviting her to join him. The man's intentions immediately became clear.
Bianchina, supported by her loyalty to her husband, acted with cunning and went to the gallant appointment accompanied by some trusted ladies.
Galeazzo received Bianchina in his halls overflowing with symbols of power and wealth.
He had a gargantuan banquet prepared, which, in the dim light created by the flickering light of the candles, revealed containers full of food and jugs overflowing with wine of the best quality. All this certainly left no doubt about the man's real intentions towards his friend, but that evening his expectations were dashed due to the cumbersome presence of the ladies following Bianchina.
Returning to Rivalta, the woman told her husband what had happened, who, deeply saddened by the behavior of his one-time friend and protector, began massive fortification works on his castle, in the event of more ruinous conflicts.
Galeazzo, inflamed with anger at the shame he had suffered, gathered his soldiers and besieged the walls of the castle of Rivalta, well aware, however, that he had no chance of taking over the robust manor by force. He therefore tried to isolate the besieged from any possible supply to force them to surrender due to starvation.
After eleven weeks the besieged had to surrender: the losses were also huge for the winners, who left more than fifty men on the field. Galeazzo ordered the destruction of the castle. The offense suffered by Obizzo cried out for revenge. He fortunately managed to escape and headed towards Asti where, putting aside his Ghibelline pride, he offered himself as leader of the troops of Cardinal Bertrando del Poggetto who aimed to conquer Piacenza, governed by Galeazzo Visconti.
In October of the same 1322, Obizzo, commanding a contingent of two hundred knights and four hundred infantry, entered the city, overpowering Galeazzo. With this victory he managed to take away the dominion over Piacenza from the Viscontis and to be elected Governor of the city.
As a leader, Landi continued to serve the Pontiff, defending the rights of the Church, until he died in 1328 in Bologna. Purified of its fictional aspect, the story, in reality, demonstrates that what triggered the conflicts was not so much Galeazzo's overly gallant behavior, but Obizzo's precise desire to conquer Piacenza.
As for the Landi's wife, it seems that her real name was Ermellina Bagarotti, or Orsolina of the Tower, as others claim, the only certain fact is that the woman was nicknamed Bianchina, exactly as the legend says.

The story of Pietro Zanardi Landi

According to the story, Obizzo Landi – feudal lord of Rivalta in the 14th century – and his wife Bianchina had three children. The youngest lost his life in an ambush, so the Castle passed to the sisters and their husbands, Pietro Zanardi Landi and Galvano Landi.
They fought over the inheritance for a long time, until Galvano III Landi became the owner. The rivalry between the two gives rise to the legend of the ghost of the Castle, since the story ends with the assassination of Pietro Zanardi Landi. According to belief, in order to take revenge, the spirit of Zanardi Landi wandered in the Castle until 1890, the year in which the assets passed to the descendants of the innocent victim.
Appeased, but with a lasting memory and not very inclined to forgiveness, the ghost returned in 1970, when an unsuspecting descendant of the ancient murderer was staying with the Zanardi Landi family. The guest is tormented throughout the night and it is on that occasion that, searching through the folds of history, the tragic story emerges.

The chef Giuseppe

More recent, but still with a tragic origin, is the other inexplicable presence. This is the cook Giuseppe, killed in the eighteenth century by the butler whose wife he had threatened.
It would manifest itself by turning switches on and off.
In the 1980s, during a night when Princess Margaret of England was at the Castle, Giuseppe would have had fun for over ten minutes putting household appliances and other equipment into operation, moving paintings and various objects, especially in the wing of the Castle overlooking the Trebbia, where the old kitchen was located. The ghost was also studied by Alessandro Cecchi Paone's team. Every now and then, when the house is particularly crowded, the cook Giuseppe appears again, but always in a more joking than terrifying way.

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