Leper’s Tower

Aosta, Italy

The Leper’s Tower was built on the ruins of an ancient Roman tower and was originally known as the Friour Tower, after the family that lived there. This family, whose name was mentioned for the first time in 1191, also occupied the Ports Decumana, now abandoned.

After several changes of ownership, it was bought by the Order of Saint-Maurice in 1773 and was incorporated into a hospice of charity founded by Jean-Boniface Festaz. The current name derives from the fact that a leper named Pierre Bernard Guasco, a native of Oneglia was imprisoned there from 1773 to 1803. This story inspired Lepers of the city of Aosta, a story written by Xavier de Maistre, published in 1811.

In 1890, the tower was restored. Today it belongs to the Autonomous Region of Aosta Valley, which holds exhibitions at the site.

The Leper’s Tower was founded on a Roman tower whose foundations were excavated in the nineteenth century. A medieval tower was built on the site in the 15th century.

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Founded: 15th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Italy

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4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Roberto Calanca (9 months ago)
Among the various beauties of historical interest that enrich this splendid city in the mountains, the one that struck me the most is undoubtedly the Leper's Tower, first of all because it was the first, in chronological order, that I found myself in front of during my first walk near Aosta; secondly, I was positively impressed by this dark silhouette, so essential and sinister, which imposes itself in the space in such an austere way. This ancient construction, built on the foundations of a Roman tower by a noble family, is still there to defy the centuries, with its disturbing name that always gives shivers every time it is pronounced. It might seem strange to say, but the fact that it cannot be visited inside makes it even more interesting and mysterious, and certainly the protagonist of who knows how many fantasies on the part of the younger ones. Its evocative power is so strong and current that even some writers, including Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski (as remembered on the plaque next to the tower), have cited it in their works. After a long period of abandonment and the transfer of ownership to the Mauritian Order in 1773 (during which a leper citizen was locked up inside), the building was restored in 1890 and is an example of how the right care for a work, can preserve it so well over time.
Maria Vasilca (13 months ago)
The history of this tower is interesting.
Andrea Zamboni (14 months ago)
Born as an ancient Roman bastion, the Leper Tower (Tour du Lépreux in French) was later transformed into a feudal residence. In 1773 the property passed to the Mauritian Order which hosted the leper Pietro Bernardo Guasco, whose stay in the Tower, fictionalized by Xavier de Maistre, gave it its current name. However, the tower has always had a "sinister" history, as it was previously known as the Tower of Fright (Tour de la Frayeur in French). The last major restoration made it possible to discover that the tower stands on the remains of another older tower (most likely from the Roman era) which was incorporated into the current medieval tower structure with a square plan. On the walls it is still possible to identify the presence of Roman windows, mostly walled up, but which, to a small extent, give light to the internal floors. Today the Tower belongs to the Autonomous Region of Valle d'Aosta which uses it as an exhibition venue. Scary leper colony brought back to life.
Roberto Moretto (17 months ago)
An ancient Roman bastion, the Torre del Lebbroso was transformed into a feudal residence by the Friour nobles, of whom we know of in 1191. It has this curious name because in 1773 it was purchased by the Mauritian Order which had a family of lepers originally from Oneglia imprisoned there. The last survivor of them, Pietro Bernardo Guasco who died in 1803, told of his sufferings to the writer Xavier de Maistre who immortalized them in the pages of the novel "Le lépreux de la cité d'Aoste", written in 1811.
Stefano Tucci (2 years ago)
Its history is described in the various totems that you find in various historical points of Aosta. It speaks of a family locked up during the plague and hence its name It is only possible to visit the structure externally but it makes its volume clear.
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