BRIEF HISTORY OF BORGO DELLA ROCCA AND IT’S ARISTOCRATIC OWNERS
Early records show that Borgo della Rocca was a fief of the Bishop of Tortona, who was succeeded in the XII century by the Ruino di Montepicco family, the original proprietors and founders of this historical Lombardian estate. From the middle of the XIV century the noble family of ‘De Curle’ took ownership followed by the Count ‘Dal Verme’ of the Grand Duchy of Milan.
After this succession of aristocracy Borgo della Rocca was occupied by a band of English mercenaries known as ‘The White Company’, who on their way back to England after battle were hired by the Marquis of Monferrato (in 1622) to oversee the estate for 30 years, until ownership went full circle back to the Bishop of Tortona who instilled the noble family of ‘Grassi’ as the feudal lords.
In 1700 the property passed to the noble family of Gambarana but then back again to the Bishop of Tortona who transformed the estate into a cloistered monastery. The history of Borgo della Rocca and the Barons of Ghislanzoni starts from the mid 1800’s.
Borgo della Rocca, which still to this day maintains its historic name of ‘Rocca de Ghislanzoni’, is currently the property of Count Premoli, a historic noble aristocratic family titled ‘Counts of the Palace of the Sacred Roman Empire’, by the German Emperor Federico Barbarossa, in the XIII century. When Count Luigi Premoli married Baroness Eugenia de Ghislanzoni the succession of the property under the name ‘de Ghislanzoni’ was interrupted.
Count ‘Gigi’ Premoli and Eugenia de Ghislanzoni resided at Borgo della Rocca between 1930 to 1946. Count ‘Gigi’ was a famous car racing champion and still famed locally both for his success and for his rally training around the tight and narrow roads and hills surrounding Borgo della Rocca. The golden years of car racing (before World War II broke out) were when Count ‘Gigi’ resided at Borgo della Rocca. At the wheel of his English Salmson racing car, which he personally modified and improved one of the various workshops at Borgo della Rocca (and affectionally renamed it ‘Il Salmone’), Count Luigi Premoli won the Grand Prize of Monza in the category 1100cc, and become the Italian champion in this category in 1931. At the height of his racing career the King (the Prince of Piemonte) who, attended the race, presented Count Luigi Premoli with the Grand Prize and Cup. Many celebrations followed at Borgo della Rocca, which His Grand Majesty The Prince of Piemonte also attended. Thus was concluded a glorious decade of racing for Count Luigi Premoli.
Over the centuries Borgo della Rocca has been subject to numerous changes and transformations, from a feudal stronghold to fortress, and from a cloistered monastery to an estate with a noble mansion and farmland which today is farmed organically.
The original chapel was enriched with a two tiered arched gallery, ‘La Loggia’, and a bell tower was added to the structure in the mid XVIII century. During World War II Borgo della Rocca was occupied by the German Wehrmacht and used as a radio station to spot allied bomber planes arriving from the Gulf of Genova and heading towards Milan on the bombing raids of 1944/45.
Today, Count Ludovico Premoli oversees the estate with the same passion and drive as his father, Conte Giancarlo Premoli.