The Fortress dates back to the Middle Age, precisely to 1124 when he first defensive tower was built by the Pallavicinos. The walls were then erected, starting from the north squared turret, probably after 1386 by the Sanvitales who acquired the Castle from the Viscontis of Milan. The whole structure was completed only in the XVIth century with the construction of the first floor, adapted later as an apartment, operation which can be considered as the beginning of a definitive transformation of the Fortress from a defensive structure into a residential home.
The presence of the Sanvitales is still tangible not only in the coats of arms, in the blazons scattered everywhere but also in the formal organization of the urban centre, in the rooms of the Fortress which look still lively as well as in the churches and in many other places. The first documents describe the family as not coming from the feudal nobility but strictly linked to the magistratures and the town structures ( the Sanvitales were registered as podestà or capitani del popolo in several towns). They got many benefits and much power from the development of the Municipality during the Middle Age. This is the reason why they were considered members of the municipal nobility. Their Guelphic attitude led them to be in charge of important positions in many towns and to get as a benefit the land of Fontanellato in 1378 from Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the Lord of Milan, who had occupied lands belonging to the Terzis. In 1404 the brothers Gilberto and Gianmartino Sanvitale got the investiture for the County of Fontanellato. From the XV th century on they chose this castle, among the many they owned, as the centre of the family’s belongings and in spite of a temporary confiscation of Alfonso II Sanvitale’s goods in 1612, as he had been involved in the Farnese’s conspiracy, they were the Lords of the place till the suppression of the feuds under Napoleon’ s government. However, the link between the Sanvitales and Fontanellato was not interrupted. The Sanvitales were present and active till 1948 when Count Giovanni sold the Fortress to the Town which accepted to keep it with courage and farsightedness.
Since 30th September 1999 inside the Fortress 11 new rooms have been opened on the ground floor creating an expositive surface of 263 squared metres.
The important contribution given by the Law 270/97 “ Giubileo extra Lazio “ and the generous one by the Cassa di Risparmio di Parma e Piacenza permitted its recovery. These places had previously been used as Town Offices and partly as an archive. With the creation of this new museal and expositive structure, documents and paintings once exposed in the previous museum in an inappropriate way can now be seen in their beauty together with many other works of art belonging to both the Town and the Parish of Santa Croce in Fontanellato. The museum enlargement has permitted the creation of a new expositive section of interesting maps and lithographies dealing with the history of this geographical area and of the castles.