Vigoleno, a medieval town of considerable artistic and historical importance, lies on Colle Santo Stefano slope, in the province of Piacenza, and dominates Stirone Valley. Its history leads us back to the Middle Ages, since already in the 10th century this location was probably characterized by the presence of a castle which not only worked as an outpost towards Parma, but also defended the whole valley. In 1141, the small fortress acquired the right to be defended by the Commune of Piacenza, and then by the Pallavicino family.
However, the real lords of the town had been Scotti from Piacenza, already present in the 13th and 14th century: the town represented the symbol of their political strength and in 1306 they transformed it into a fortress. Afterwards Vigoleno with its fortified town was conquered by Visconti (1373), again by Scotti (1385) and then by Farnese; only in 1500 Scotti acquired again their rights on Vigoleno from Farnese, who in 1602 made Scotti from Vigoleno "marquises". The latter were lords of the castle until the beginning of the 20th century. In 1796 the town, occupied by the French, was annexed to the Empire of the French Republic and, afterwards, according to the Wien agreement, annexed again to the Dukedom of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla, until 1860, year of the Unification of Italy. After World War I, the structure belonged to the Duchess Maria di Grammont, wife of the French Duke Grammont first and then of the son of the famous novelist Victor Hugo; it was the duchess who decided to renovate the castle and, thanks to her will, in the years between the two wars, Vigoleno became a place where nobles, poets, writers, and musicians from all over Europe used to meet (among them, Gabriele D'Annunzio and Arthur Rubinstein). During World War II, the castle passed over to other families. Today a part of the castle is still private property, while another part (the keep, the communication rounds, and the tower) has been recently renovated and is open to the public.
Vigoleno fortified complex, dating back to the 11th century and destroyed more than once, was definitively reconstructed as we see it today according to the 1389 structure, when it belonged to Scotti from Piacenza. It encloses, in double curtain walls, several perfectly preserved structures: the entrance fortification, the castle with the keep and the communication rounds, the rural houses which are still inhabited, the square with the circular fountain, St George Church, and the Feeding Madonna Oratory.