Born in Genoa on 14 December 1828 of Emanuele and Maria Cuola. He studied at the Ligustica Academy in Genoa. After an initial career as a cartoonist, in 1851 he made his debut at the Genoese Promoter with a genre subject, The first pain, which would be followed by The Genoese worker (1852) and A small peasant woman (1854). In the following years Castagnola dealt with themes of Risorgimento history and subjects common to Romantic historicism interpreted with intense chromatism: at the Promoter he presented The Return from Crimea (1856), Raffaello e la Fornarina (1858), Aldruda Donati presenting his daughter in Buondelmonte (1859) , Castruccio found by madonna Dianora Castracani (1860). After short stays in Rome and Naples, he settled in Florence and here he became a frequent visitor to the Caffè Michelangiolo: his contact with the Florentine environment led him to adopt forms of greater expressive immediacy, but he remained faithful to the genre of painting in which he had already achieved some success. More assiduous at the Genoese exhibitions than at the Florentine ones, in 1862 he presented in his city the first editorial office of Filippo Lippi, a Florentine painter who fell in love with the nun Lucrezia Buti and made her escape from the convent, a theme that was later taken up several times. The end of Alessandro de 'Medici, exhibited in Genoa in 1865, was bought by Oddone di Savoia (Genoa, Civic Gallery of Modern Art). From the 1970s he returned to gender subjects linked to contemporary life (The return from seeking, 1874; Begging is prohibited, 1876). The self-portrait of the Ligustica Academy of Genoa dates back to 1879. He died in Florence on August 31, 1883.