04 May Vezio Castle
FOR MORE THAT A THOUSAND YEARS THE CASTLE HAS OVERTAKED VARENNA IN THE CENTER OF COMO LAKE
◇ HISTORY ◇
THE FALCONRY SHOW FOR ADULTS AND CHILDREN
At the centre of Lake Como, on the bluff overlooking Varenna, standing for more than a thousand years is the Vezio Castle where the history, art, nature and culture of the area have blended in perfect harmony in a landscape of unparalleled natural beauty. In this old military outpost, you can visit the gardens, the dungeons and the walls, wander among the works of art, climb the tower that contains a permanent exhibition about the Lariosaurus and from where you will enjoy a magnificent 360 degree view of the lake and watch the free flight of birds of prey in our daily falconry demonstrations.
Before coming to visit us, please check timetables and opening periods, as well as the program of falconry demonstrations. Please note that because of the presence of the birds of prey, it is strictly forbidden to bring dogs into the garden. We suggest appropriate shoes. In case of rain, the castle is closed to the public.
The origin of the castle of Vezio is still uncertain, lost in the mists of time. Probably, the first people who settled on the shores of our Lake had immediately noticed the exceptional site of the fortress and its tactical advantage over enemy attacks; indeed from the top of the promontory it was possible to overlook the area where today stands Varenna, at the foot of it, as well as the centre of the lake and, as a consequence, the ancient communication routes for men and goods.
It’s not wrong to suppose that there were settlements, maybe fortified, on the hill of Vezio in the late V or IV century B.C.; nevertheless, we are sure that in the Roman a defensive line of strongholds was built on the banks of the oriental side of the lake; and, among them, our castrum.
In the Middle Ages our castle and Varenna have joined their fates. Because of the frequent attack from Como, the inhabitants of the village used to find their salvation into the castle; it was defended with walls that extended from the top of the hill to the banks of the lake, enclosing the underlying residential zone.
Before the seventeenth century the tower had been a property of the Church of St. George in Varenna, until, in the year 1600, the priest of the village and the Duke of Monte Marcino had a quarrel. Despite the fact that the right of property belonged to the Church, the Duke occupied the castle.At last, the Earl of Riviera won the legal argument, and decided to rent his properties in Vezio to Giovanni Antonio Forno in 1619; then, in 1631, to Giovanni Antonio de Tarelli, and in 1656 to Antonio Tarelli.
One of the first documents related to Vezio belongs to 1368: it’s a donation of land in St. Anthony Church’s favour. In accordance with two inscriptions dictated by Parlaschino, the tower of the castle was rebuilt in 1635; unfortunately, there is no other information about this and it makes the testimony unverifiable.
Coming back to the “legal” history of the castle, it remained a property of the family Sfrondati – Earls of Riviera – until the end of the dynasty; then, the castle passed tothei heirs, the family Serbelloni. In 1647 the Earl Giulio Monti was invested with the estate of Perledo e Varenna, which added to his feud in Valtellina. At a leater stage, in 1778 even the estate of Varenna passed to family Serbelloni, and they retained the possession of the Castle of Vezio until the nineteenth century.
Finally, the building passed to the current owners, the family Greppi of Robilant. By 1994, the castle is rented to “Associazione Turistica Castello di Vezio”, a no-profit organization that, as well as maintain and restore its beauty, promotes artistic expositions and various initiatives inside it.