The Castello Visconteo is one of those things that must be on your bucket list when visiting Milan and its surroundings. It is a one-of-a-kind example of medieval architecture on the banks of the river Adda, a few miles east of Milan. It was built to defend a ford in a strategic position, most probably in the Lombard or Carolingian era.
The Castello Visconteo: a brief history
The Catsello Visconteo was built between 1360 and 1377. The castle is part of a series of infrastructures known as Visconti fortresses that make up a sort of belt all around the city of Milan.
Over time, the castle was repeatedly the subject of dispute between opposing sides. At first, the opposing parties were Frederick Barbarossa and the city of Milan. The emperor, who came into possession of the castle in 1158, commissioned an expansion of the structure, which was fortified and equipped with towers. Fortification which, with the expulsion of Barbarossa, was dismantled by the Milanese. At a later time it was the turn of the Viscontis, opposed to the Torriani. The Viscontis were responsible for a series of works that transformed the castle into a luxurious noble residence.
The current remains are those of the 1360 construction by Bernabò Visconti on the ruins of an older fortress built by Barbarossa around 1160. Bernabò completed an immense military complex, fortifying the entire Trezzo promontory, making it his hunting residence which then became his prison until his death (1385) by his nephew Gian Galeazzo Visconti.
Ghost stories and other scary facts
The Castello Visconteo was the scene of bloody battles and conquests which saw Barbarossa, the Torriani and the Viscontis as protagonists, and was destroyed and rebuilt several times. The history of the castle remains above all linked to that of Bernabò Visconti, between reality and legend, who was then killed in his castle by his nephew and rival Gian Galeazzo Visconti, lord of Milan, after being imprisoned in the dungeons.
There are many ghost stories linked to the Visconti Castle, perhaps also due to the turbulent past that he witnessed several times; it is also said that in the park around it, in an unspecified point, the treasure of Frederick Barbarossa is buried. Legend has it that the ghost of Barbarossa haunts the gardens around the castle at night to protect his rich treasure.
Another ghost story features German soldiers who settled near the ruins of this fortress on the Adda during the Nazi occupation of northern Italy. During one night, numerous girls in typical medieval dresses appeared to them. The soldiers agreed that they had all had the same dream
Then there are the stories of two different women who, having fallen in love with the wrong man, met a sad fate. The first decided to commit suicide by throwing herself from the top of the tower. It is said that if you pay attention during the night you can still see her shadow flying to the ground and then disappear. The second, was thrown into the well by her father, Bernabò Visconti, because she fell in love with a humble stable boy
If you are visiting Milan during the month of October and are looking for a way to celebrate halloween then a tour of this fortress is a not-to-be-missed experience!
*Source: Proloco Trezzo; Gite in Lombardia; Unsplash.com