The itinerary to discover Diano Castello begins by the arcades, at the entrance to the village. A map of 1773 shows the ancient structure of this site. The Castrum Diani (ancient name of Diano Castello), was founded in the 10th century, as a place of defence against the Saracens Pirates. Then the government was held by the family of the Marquises of Clavesana, who held the power until the second half of the XII century.
The end of the feudal power, led to the constitution of an autonomous government, made by the citizens: the Communitas Diani, who extended their authority all over the Dianese Valley. Afterwards, in Diano Castello, as in almost all the villages of Western Liguria, the Republic of Genoa imposed its control. The representative figure of the power was the “Podestà”, chosen among the richest Genoese families and sent in the valley as a supervisor. A slope leads to the courtyard of the Parish Church. Opposite, on the wall of the Town Hall, you can admire the fresco painted to remind us of the Battle of Meloria, between Genoa and Pisa, on the 6th August 1284, ending with the victory of Genoa the Superb. Many soldiers from Diano Castello fought in this battle. The Parish Church was conceived by Giacomo Filippo Marvaldi, in the first years of 18th century, in baroque style. The façade is imposing, well designed by pilasters. The bell tower, damaged after the earthquake of 1887, is nowadays without top, and ends with a balustrade terrace. Inside, the church has one nave with lateral chapels and it is rich in marble and golden ornaments. You continue along Via Martiri della Liberazione. It is a typical “carruggio” (narrow street), with high houses connected to each other by suspended arches; notice, upon a door, a bas-relief in slate, figuring the Virgin with the Infant.
In Piazza Clavesana the foundation of the Castle is still visible, belonging to the family Clavesana. Very interesting is the bas-relief on a stone, showing the baptism of Jesus Christ. The parvis decorated with cobblestones, is a real jewel.
Going ahead on Via Martiri, you reach the little square “Piazza dell’Assunta” and the Theatre Concordia, built by the younger inhabitants of Diano Castello, after the First World War and recently restored. On your left, the apses of the church dedicated to the Assumption; is really beautiful with its elegant decoration made of little heads sculpted with a high-relief technique.
The church was built in the first half of the 13th century in Romanic style. Inside, on the right side wall, two important polyptychs have been painted: on the left, the Virgin breast-feeding the Holy Infant (attributed to the family of painters Brea, 15th century), and on the right, Saint Lucia, by Agostino Casanova.
Going ahead, you will reach Piazza Giudice, and then continue along Via Borgo. Here are still visible the hinges of one of the four doors to enter the village, when it was surrounded by stonewalls. Along this narrow street, you will admire a beautiful slate portal, as a reminiscence of the richness of the families who lived here. The street then becomes wider, right in front of the Oratory of St. Bernardino and St. Croce. Inside, a precious fresco by the brothers Biasacci da Busca, of the second half of the 15th century.
Beside the Oratory, an ancient iron gate allows you to enter the churchyard in front of the church St. Giovanni Battista. This church is the most ancient one of the village, and it is situated outside of the stonewalls; probably, this is the reason why this church was fortified. Its style is Romanic, and an accurate study dates its building to the 11th century. The main apses is sided by a smaller one. In its walls open narrow single lancet windows. Inside there’s only one nave, built with square cut stones. The wooden lacunar ceiling is splendid, with preciously decorated brackets. Sacred and profane scenes, dated to the middle of the 15th century, are painted on it. In particular, the profane scenes are very interesting, for the information about life in Diano Castello at that period. From the churchyard of St. Giovanni, you can admire the whole Dianese Valley and its crown of villages, surrounded by olive trees.