02 - History of Finalborgo

Quoted in ancient sources as Burgus Finarii, Finalborgo is a fine example of a newly founded, medieval walled settlement. The borgo was built towards the end of the 12th century on the floodplains at the foot of the Becchignolo hill, where the Pora and Aquila streams flow into each other.
The town was founded as a consequence of the territorial re-organization devised in 1185 by Enrico II Del Carretto, after losing control over Savona and Noli, when these two towns became free communes.
The borgo of Finale was strategically located along the roads that connected the Finale area to the Oltregiogo region, where the Del Carretto family owned large landed estates.
Besides increasing demographic needs, new Mediaeval towns were built in order to encourage greater centralization where administration, taxation and justice were concerned. More centralized power meant that local governments were strong enough to hold their own over an extremely fragmented territory at a time of continuing warfare.
A deed by the notary Alberto dated 1213 supplies the earliest known proof of the newly founded town, dominated by Castel Gavone, or Gavone Castle, which was re-constructed by Enrico II on the Bechignolo hilltop in 1217.
The charters of Finale issued by Antonio Del Carretto in 1311, regulated life and livelihood of the Borgo, by enforcing strict town-planning rules and regulations similar to those applied in other leading Middle-Age towns.
Urban traits are not only in the social organization, but also in the Courts of Law, where justice was administered on behalf of the Marquess.
Further proof of the prestige that the town enjoyed lies in the fact that religious communities were allowed to settle within the perimeter of the walls. The Convent of Santa Caterina was therefore founded in 1359. The Church of San Biagio was founded a few years later, between 1372 and 1375.
In his Bellum Finariense, humanist Gian Mario Filelfo describes how bravely the walled town resisted against the lengthy Genovese siege that was part of the Finale War that raged between 1447 and 1450. Filelfo also tells us how heavily Finalborgo was bombarded during the siege up until its final capitulation and destruction by the Genoense army in 1449.
In December 1450, Giovanni I Del Carretto re-conquered his Marquessate and set to rebuilding both Castel Gavone and the Borgo, which was enclosed into new walls and gates. The Law Courts were rebuilt in 1462, and the bell tower of the Church of San Biagio followed suit a few years later. Over the following decades, the Convent of Santa Caterina was enlarged by adding two Renaissance cloisters to it.
The second half of the 16th Century was especially fraught for the Finale, as Alfonso II (1546-1583) was forced to defend his ancient Marquessate from the Genovesi and the Spanish, who finally occupied the area in 1598.
Investments in the Finale area at the beginning of the 'Spanish' period together with the town's strategic position with reference to the Duchy of Milan triggered a period of economic growth. This position became crucial when the Beretta road was opened in 1666.
After this Finale sank together with the decline of the Spanish Empire and finally lost its freedom when the town was sold to Genova in 1713.
After the fall of the Napoleonic Empire in 1713 and the annexation to the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1814, Finale gradually shrank, while the coastal settlement of Marina, whose demographics had boomed during the Spanish period, gradually gained importance.
Over the last few decades the Borgo and its ancient charms are gradually being re-discovered, as you will find by strolling down the roads and alleyways.
The refurbishment of the Convent of Santa Caterina and the decision to use it for cultural events have been crucial steps towards re-qualifying the Borgo, which is now listed among the "Borghi più belli d'Italia", literally the most beautiful towns in Italy.