The town has always been contested for its strategic position close to major routes. In ancient times it was fought over by the Etruscans and Romans; the battle for ownership continued in the Middle Ages between the Lombard Tuscan cities and Byzantine Perugia. For this reason, the town’s fortifications, destroyed and rebuilt numerous times, have undergone many changes over the centuries.
In 1550, Pope Julius III gave the town to his sister, Giacoma, and his nephews Ascanio and Fulvio della Corgna, who ruled it until 1647 as the Dukes of Castiglione del Lago.
The Della Corgna Family
The Della Corgna were an important family who ruled the Duchy of Castiglione del Lago from 1563-1647.
Originally from Perugia, they played an important socio-economic role in the town on a par with the Ansidei and Crispolti families, but their prestige greatly increased with the marriage between Francesco (Francia) della Corgna and Giacoma Ciocchi del Monte, the younger sister of the future Pope Julius III.
The children from this marriage were Ascanio, Fulvio and Laura.
The pope gave his sister the territories of Castiglione del Lago and Chiugi, for centuries known as ‘Chiugi Perugino’.
Ascanio I was the most famous of the Della Corgna family. An expert swordsman and brave military man, he was also an architect, receiving from the pope the title of Marquis of Castiglione del Lago and Chiugi. He was sent on many assignments as a papal envoy, and is remembered for his many exploits as an army general. On his return from the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, he was seized with a high fever and died in Rome at the home of his brother Fulvio, who had meanwhile become a cardinal.
His exploits are remembered in the form of a rich fresco cycle executed by the painter Pomarancio in Palazzo Della Corgna, the house Ascanio ordered to be constructed next to the fortress in Castiglione del Lago.
The four generations of the Della Corgna family followed one another in less than a hundred years. The dynasty ended with Fulvio Alessandro II, who died without male heirs. He was awarded the title of duke, the first and the last of Corgna to bear it.
On the death of the last of the Della Corgna family, the duchy was absorbed by the Papal State.