In the Middle Ages, Lerici was a free port without fortifications. In 1241 the Pisans, after defeating the Genoeses during the Battle of Giglio, occupied the port and built the first castle and the original Pisan village, in front of it. In 1256, the Pisans were beaten by the Florentines and, consequently, they had to give Lerici back. The Pisans, though, refused this decision and so a Genoese fleet attacked the village and the castle. Lerici, then, became part of the Genoese possessions. After the invention of firearms, all the fortifications had to be fixed and plastered. The entrance on this little square was closed and a three-level ravelin was built right in front of the Castle, but at the end of the 19th Century it was demolished.
The castle of Lerici was, for centuries, a Genoese maximum security prison: numerous they were the important ad famous prisoners confined inside, and numerous the death sentences that were performed inside the castle, above all against rebellious from Corsica Island. Francis I of France was imprisoned in this castle too, after the Battle of Pavia (1525) and Andrea Doria hid here when the French fleet came to Lerici to catch him after he decided to serve Charles V of Spain (1528).
The medieval italian poet Francesco Petrarca spoke of the “slender tower of the castle of Lerici”, while the actual one is nearly wide of the preceding one. The pentagonal tower that we see today, decorated by whites and blacks hanging bows, contains another smaller tower, originally built by Pisa.
Attentively looking at the building fabrics, you can still see some windows archer, the shoe created in the overlooking side the Piazza San Giorgio (going up again to the interventions of the 1555), the primitive small door of entry, that was provided of bridge drawbridge.
Inside the castle, the there is a Chapel devoted to Saint Anastasia , a virgin killed together to other young Christians in the island of Palmaiola, near Piombino (Tuscany), so she became the patron saint of that city. According to some sources, however, the martyrdom took place on the island of Palmaria, which you can see in front of you. The little church, decorated in Gothic-Genoese style, built with black and white stones, is an extraordinary example of medieval castle chapel: it’s arrived intact up to us from the thirteenth century. The chapel was probably erects from the Pisans, but when the Genoese regained the castle they reconstructed it, inserting characterizing decorative elements, as the two valuable bas-reliefs representing lambs with cross and with Genoa flag, and Saint George who kills the dragon.
Above the entrance of the chapel, there’s a headstone in Latin in which the castle, speaking to the visitor, it tells the 1256 Genoese recapture and the consequent interventions to reinforce the castle.
Our wonderful castle is not only the historical symbol of the village, but it’s also a museum that periodically hosts important exhibitions. We invite you to enter and visit it, climbing up to the panoramic terrace, which offers one of the most spectacular views of the Gulf of Poets.