Castle of Bova
Bova is the most important town of Calabria’s so-called “Graecanic Island”, an area in the province of Reggio Calabria where native speakers of the ancient Calabrian-Greek language still reside.
The old town’s Norman Castle, partially hewn out of the rock, goes back to the eleventh century and stands on the summit of Monte Rotondo, at about 827 metres above sea level, dominating the whole of the surrounding valley.
The few remaining traces of the original structure are not sufficient to define its area, identify the date of its foundation or pinpoint the various phases of its reconstruction.
Available sources speak of an imposing castle founded in Norman times and enhanced in 1494 by the Aragonese.
On the basis of the few elements available, however, it is possible to assert that the castle was designed to contain several storeys while its foundations were built directly on the rock. The various premises occupied three floors: on the lower floor was “the great hall” accessed through a “corridor”; on the floor above that, there were two rooms and on the uppermost storey a small rectangular chapel with a barrel-vaulted ceiling and frescoes, of which traces are still visible.
The inner walls are over 60 cm deep, while the outer ones, hewn directly into the outcrop, measure 1.5 metres and also contain trap doors.
The castle stood right up against the city walls of which the Parcopia tower, which still exists, was a part. The Tower, built in the tenth century, is situated west both of the village and of the castle itself. It is round, cylindrical in form, with a stone and brick base wider in diameter than the main corpus. The summit is in mixed stone and brick masonry.
Several local legends have sprung up around the castle. On a rock, amid the ruins of the manor, the footprint of a woman’s foot, which according to legend belonged to Matilda of Canossa who had received the castle from Pope Gregory VII, can still be seen. If a young girl’s foot fits this footprint, Cinderella-like, it is believed that she is a descendant of the Countess’s family
Another legend known as the “Footprint of the Queen”, holds that if a young girl’s foot fits perfectly into that of the Queen, the rock will open up to reveal the treasure it conceals.
This castle is about 52 kilometres from Reggio Calabria.
Source: Castelli nella Provincia di Reggio Calabria – Volume 7