Grand Hotel dei Castelli - Sestri Levante (GE) - Riviera Liguria, Italia, tra Portofino e le Cinque Terre
"There was once a charming place overlooking the Liguria Sea, a corner where the Sea was more blue and where the Sun was in the sky longer. Here the Sirens, enchanted by the magnificent scenario offered by the island, chose their stay and layed on the rocks that, like small thrones, emerged from the water. From the shore, Tigullio, the youngest and beautiful of Tritoni saw a day Segesta, the most beautiful and fascinating of the Sirens with eyes more blue than Sea and hair shining more than Sun and immediately felt in love with her. One night, while the moon made silver the rocks and many, many stars beat like his heart, Tigullio tried to kidnap Segesta, but Neptune, God of the Sea, not liked that this paradise was deprived of the most harmonious of its gems and punished Tigullio making his arm like a rock. An isthmus was born, a great isthmus, which joined the island to the mainland... and even today it is impossible to watch this promontory, those rocks and the sea without thinking about Sirens."
The history of Castles begins in 1089 when the Island of Sestri Levante became the domain of the Republic of Genoa. In those days Sestri Levante was victim of raids and deportations by the pirates and Saracens. It was to safeguard Sestri people from these raids that consuls of Genoa in 1145 built the Castle of Sestri. Since then the island was turned into a citadel which access through four doors drawn from the walls. Here inhabitants found shelter in case of danger and refuged in the evening finished their business in the village. Between 1151 and 1190 was built the church of St. Nicolo', also wanted by the Republic of Genoa to give religious assistance to the islanders. To increase the safety of the "citadel" were constructed two other Castles, the first built in 1310 and the second, called "dell'Aquila", in 1440. What happened then we can not know and our story brings us during the Second World War when the troops of occupiers chose the peninsula as a refuge and bulwark and when it was heavily bombed and razed to the ground..
There was once a Wizard of finance that, tired of fevered calculations and mundane noises, a day wished to build an oasis for the rest of the soul and for friendship occasions. He went around in various regions; travelled the two Rivieras, to give body to idea and asylum to poetry. Here came the Magician and exclaimed: "On this hill of bliss is beautiful having a rest to stop the shining moment." He called him men of chisel, opened the rich coffers:" Draw a full hands, but give me a fabulous residence, which has to be a break from all the weariness and balms to all concerns." Artisans and artists accepted the request ; they went in search of building rarities to raise the temple to beauty. Columns of porphyry and capitals, amphorae, tanks, mosaics, frames and architraves, arcades and staircases; treasures of the ancient age came to the enchanted promontory for the glory of art and the joy of pilgrims of nostalgia. Nature geave its gifts: bright prospects, superb views, projections and inlets, terraces and lookout, paths and fragrant trees, to adorn recesses and rock silences. In this way were built the magic Castles, that at first were seat of fun of Wizardo and today hatch to sweat rests and fruitful relax of everybody. Children of Nature and Art, Sea and Mountain, green and blue in happy marriage, the Castles have entered into legend and will remain in history. The manufacturer Magician, who valued one of the most beautiful landscapes of Italy, has led to other beaches, satisfied of new fate of Castles no longer « his » but « yours », of those who seek in the Beauty and in contemplation of the landscape a reason to live and forget..."
1920'li yıllarda yarımada, Biellalı avukat, yatırımcı, sanayici ve aynı zamanda koleksiyoner olan Riccardo Gualino tarafından satın alınmıştır. Böylece yarımadanın yıkıntı halinden ve molozlardan kurtulması için yaklaşık bir asır önce çalışmalar başlamış ve üç yeni kalenin yapımı için Romalı mimarlar Busiri ve Vici ile sanat eleştirmeni Lionelli Venturi görevlendirilmiştir. Sütun başları, kolonlar, iki ve üç tirizli pencereler tarihi kalelerin yıkıntıları arasından çıkarılmış, bizans dönemine ait parçaları ise tarihi güney İtalya evlerinden temin edilmiştir. 1925 ve 1929 yılları arasında üç tane bina yapılmıştır: Cipressi Kalesi, Lecci Kalesi ve Agavi Kalesi. 1950'li yıllarda bu muazzam yapı, lüks ve rafine bir otele dönüştürülmüştür.
Yarımadanın zirvesindki en stratejik noktada, tarihi 13. yüzyıla dayanan bir gözlem kulesi buluyordu. Gualino yakın arkadaşı Nobel ödüllü bilim adamı Guglielmo Marconi'yi kaleleri görmesi için davet etmiş ve 1932 ve 1934 yılları arasında yapacağı sayısız deneylerde bu kuleyi kullanması için ona vermiş. Guglielmo Marconi, 30 temmuz 1934 yılında gökyüzüyle ilgili yaptığı deneylerde elde ettiği başarılardan dolayı ödüllendirilmiştir.