Today’s ‘Antico Frantoio’ of Saguato Stefano is a large building with mighty walls and a four-guard tower. It is four storeys above ground and probably hides dungeons underground. In the past it was a fortified house. It was erected in the late Middle Ages on top of an earlier building of which only the foundations remain, now buried under the St. Peter’s stream.
A historic venue
Documents attest that in 1537 it housed a few friars partly preserved with a legacy of a friar of the Castello di Diano. Later it became property of the convent of Santa Caterina in Genova. In the sixteenth century the fort-house was used as a defense outpost of the Church of St. Peter, in the case of barbarian raids. At the beginning of the seventeenth century it was rented and annually gave the friars fifteen large barrels of "good, clear and marketable" oil. Also the mill and the oil mill, existing inside the building, were rented at the value of three barrels of oil per year.
Around the middle of the 18th century, during the War of Secession, the fort was used as barracks, first by Franco-Spanish troops and then by Austrian and Piedmontese troops. Once peace returned, in 1754 the complex was again leased to the citizens of Diano S. Pietro. Between 1797 and 1805, it served as barracks for Austrian troops and for the National Guard formations of the Ligurian Republic. After the Napoleonic period, from 1805 it was still an oil processing centre, changing hands several times.