The Fortino and the Gallinara Island


Did you know that Albenga was born as a seafaring city ?!? Before the 13th-14th century, the Centa river flowed further north of the city in the area now called “Pontelungo”. The sea was very close to the city walls, so much so that we had an ancient gate called “Porta Marina” , protected by the Castello di Porta Marina. Following the probable natural deviation of the course of the river, we have a gradual rise in the level of the ground and a move away from the coastline.

With this fast retreat of the beach, in the XIV-XVI centuries, it was necessary to build a fort, further ahead than the ancient city walls, which had the defensive and sighting function, as it was positioned on the coast line (about 200 meters from the current). The fort was built in 1586 at the behest of the Republic of Genoa as it allowed a prompt military intervention against pirate raids. It has a square plan structure, is strengthened at the corners by an ashlar with guardhouses and with a central floor without openings to the outside and an upper floor, on which superstructures had been built and which were demolished only in the twentieth century.

In 1953 it was then sold to the civil hospital of Loano, then passed into the hands of the Municipality of Loano, it returned to the ownership of the Municipality of Albenga in 2006 and in the following year the restoration work began which allowed it to reopen to the public. In 2011 it was given in concession to the Gian Maria Oddi Foundation, becoming the Multimedia Museum of the Gallinara Island .

It was important to dedicate a place to this treasure. The Gallinara island is located at the widening of the Albenganian coast and, with its nice turtle shape, has become one of the symbols of the city. Rich in flora, the Gallinara, so called because a particular species of wild hens lived above it, has already been expressly mentioned by Cato and Varro in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. It gained particular importance during the period of late Roman and Byzantine monasticism, furthermore various studies attest that Saint Martin of Tours stayed on the island between 356 and 360 BC while escaping from Milan to the persecutions of the Arians. Following this, the first monks who stopped on the island dedicated the monastery to San Martino. The abbey became particularly powerful in the early Middle Ages by purchasing large properties in the Diocese of Albenga and beyond.

An example of these possessions are: the church of Santa Maria in Fontibus, the church of San Calogero and the Monte di San Martino outside the walls. From the 15th century it began its decline and the sale of its assets. The abbey became a “commenda” and the Republic of Genoa built a lookout tower over it to control the Albenganian coast from possible incursions. It remained the property of the Diocese until 1842, the year in which Bishop Raffaele Biale sold it to private individuals.


Organized by the FAI Young Albenga Group - Alassio

N. Lamboglia, "Roman and medieval Albenga", International Institute of Ligurian Studies, Albenga-Bordighera 1979.
LL Calzamiglia, “The Gallinara island and its monastery”, Dominici Editore, Imperia 1992.