Castle of Pentedattilo
The foundation of Pentedattilo goes back to the high middle ages. It may have been the result of the wide-scale reorganisation of the territory undertaken in the seventh century ( though it occurred more frequently between the ninth and twelfth centuries), when defence and anti-siege fortresses were being built, at a time when the population moved inland, abandoning the coast, which had grown unhealthy, because of the swamps caused by indiscriminate deforestation and very dangerous on account of the Saracen raids.
This migration into the upper reaches of the valleys, in search of healthy, defendable sites, was accompanied by the “mediaeval Hellenisation” of the area, due to colonisation by Eastern-rite monastic communities.
One of the first bastions to be built here was the Castello di Pentedattilo, a feudal fortress built in the fourteenth century, 454 metres above sea level and at a distance of 32 kilometres from Reggio Calabria.
Pentedattilo, mentioned as one of the proto-papal centres of the Reggio Calabria district in Byzantine times, during the Angevin period, although an ecclesiastical possession, was endowed with a fortified garrison. Between the Angevin and Aragonese periods, it belonged to the archimandrical monastery of the Most Holy Saviour of Messina.
At the end of the fifteenth century, the Francoperta family from Reggio – the Barony of Pentedattilo’s first secular feudal lords- turned the military bastion into a residential dwelling. In 1589, the Albertis of Messina purchased the barony for 15,180 ducats and it remained theirs until 1686. Under this dynasty, work was carried out to extend and enhance the castle, which was equipped with ramparts and a drawbridge.
The seventeenth century saw fierce feudal battles between the Albertis of Messina and the Abenavolis of Montebello; the story of the late seventeenth-century massacre of the Albertis by Baron Bernardino Abenavoli of Montebello is sadly notorious.
After this painful event the castle was abandoned and suffered an inevitable decline. In 1760, the fiefdom became the property of Lorenzo Clemente, Marquis of San Luca, but the earthquake of 1783 damaged the village and castle so severely that Pentedattilo was listed among the villages to be reconstructed elsewhere. However, the villagers encountered enormous difficulties when attempting to move down to the coast due to the opposition of the feudal lord and their own extreme poverty.
In 1832, the fiefdom was purchased by the Ramirez family from Reggio who frequently resided here until the earthquake of 1908, which, with landslides and flooding, led to the desertion of Pentedattilo.
The ruins of the castle, towering above the hamlet, blend in so much with the outcrop upon which they stand, that it is very hard to distinguish between them and the underlying rock
A steep staircase provides access to the interior of the castle with its barrel-vaulted rooms and to a section of a circular floor; through winding passages, further vaulted rooms are visible underneath a paved sector.
Source: Castelli nella Provincia di Reggio Calabria – Volume 7