Milano – Lombardy is among the richest Italian regions in castles, medieval fortresses and princely palaces that allow you to make a real leap into the past, rediscovering traditions, legends, secrets and lifestyles of the time. From Milan to Mantua, from Sirmione to Pavia, there are many castles to visit in Lombardy. In this article we propose ten: a selection of course (of unmissable castles there are many, many others), to take inspiration for a trip out of town in the name of history and culture
1) Sforzesco Castle (Milan)
Erected in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza on the remains of a previous medieval fortification enlarged by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the Sforzesco Castle it is one of the symbolic places of the city of Milan and of all Lombardy. A building in which it is possible to make a real journey through time, from the Renaissance to the last century. Today the complex is home to ben 18 permanent exhibitions, including the Museum of Ancient Art, in whose construction he also participated Leonardo da Vinci, or the Sala del Tesoro with several frescoes by Bramante. Furthermore, given its large outdoor spaces – such as the courtyards of the Armi and the Rocchetta – the castle is often the site of events and shows, especially in the summer.
2) Visconteo Castle (Pavia)
A few kilometers away from Milan you reach Pavia, another city dominated for a long time by the Visconti and where the family decided to build their own residence. In fact, one of the symbolic places of the city is the Visconteo Castle, erected at the behest of Galeazzo Visconti in 1360. The building was the seat of the family’s court for a long time, but above all a very important hunting reserve. The castle, in fact, is equipped with a huge park, formerly extended for 10 kilometers even up to the Certosa di Pavia. Today the territory of the park is still present, although no longer connected to the castle and part of the Vernavola Park. The interior spaces of the Visconteo Castle, on the other hand, are currently the seat of the Civic Museums and temporary exhibitions.
3) Castle of Scaldasole (Scaldasole)
In the municipality of Scaldasole, near Pavia, is the Scaldasole Castle. The building was built at the behest of the gods family Campsites, between the tenth and eleventh centuries, although between 1300 and 1440 the property passed to the family Folperti. The latter added a shelter to the original nucleus of the building, providing the structure of the castle with the appearance visible today. That is an architectural complex of Visconti style, with a drawbridge at the entrance and a large central courtyard bounded by the walls of the buildings. Today it is possible to visit the castle by reservation only, being able to admire a collection of 19th century carriages, the loggia of the castle, the Chapel Oratory of the cardinal Ptolemy Gallio and a large Ballroom.
4) Castle of San Giorgio (Mantua)
The Castle of San Giorgio, one of the symbolic places of the city and testimony of the dominion of the Gonzaga in the Lombard municipality. The building was in fact built at the behest of Francesco I Gonzaga, although it was for many years the residence of the wife of Francesco II Gonzaga, Isabella d’Este. At that time the castle represented the main meeting place between the noblewoman and many famous artists of the time such as Perugino, Leonardo da Vinci, Ludovico Ariosto or Andrea Mantegna. The very famous frescoes are visible from the latter Room of the Spouses, which with the Picta Room constitutes one of the most fascinating treasures of the building.
5) Castle of San Lorenzo de ‘Picenardi (Torre de’ Picenardi)
Immersed in the nature of the Cremona countryside, is the Castle of San Lorenzo de ‘Picenardi. It is one of the largest castles in Lombardy, with its original structure from 15th century and its facade built around the nineteenth century. Inside the building it is possible to admire many Neoclassical style decorations, refined furnishings still intact and a truly fascinating medieval chapel. In the itinerary of the visit they cannot miss the passage in the basements of the building and a long walk in the great Italian garden, which surrounds the castle and is inhabited by marvelous pavoni.
6) Fortress of Soncino (Soncino)
At the town of Soncino, in the province of Cremona, there is the Rocca Sforzesca of Soncino, structure erected in 1473 as a defensive military fortress of the Republic of Venice and then of the Duchy of Milan. In 1535, however, the Sforza family lost control of Milan, due to the Spaniards, who also acquired ownership of the fortress. The building thus ceased to be a defensive fortress and became private residence of the noble family of Press. In this period many famous painters of the time were called to decorate the chapel and the rooms inside the palace, such as Bernardino Gatti e Vincenzo Campi. Today, therefore, it is possible to admire the frescoes, preserved in excellent condition, and the so-called Treasury room in the cylindrical tower of the building.
7) Castle of Grumello (Grumello del Monte)
Immersed in the hilly landscape of the Valcalepio, between Lake Iseo and Bergamo, is the Grumello Castle, originally built around the year 1000 as a military fortress, but later transformed into an aristocratic residence. The castle dominates with its impressive structure many gods vignettei of the area, famous for its high quality production. In addition the building is open to the public for guided tours, between the towers, the Knights room and the cellars parts of the medieval structure of the complex, and between the rooms of the palace and the chapel dating back to 1700.
8) Malpaga Castle (Cavernago)
Just outside Bergamo, in the municipality of Cavernago, is the Malpaga Castle, among the best preserved castles throughout Lombardy. The building was built in the fourteenth century, only to be renovated by the leader of the Republic of Venice, Bartolomeo Colleoni, in the fifteenth century. The place was transformed into a splendid residence, whose beauties are still visible today through truly suggestive guided tours. In fact, they are often organized historical re-enactments, with guides dressed in period clothes who accompany visitors to the rooms of the palace and tell the story of the condottiere Colleoni.
9) Rocca Scaligera (Sirmione)
Located in the small town of Sirmione, on the coast of Lake Garda, rises the Rocca Scaligera. The building was built in the second half of 13th century at the behest of the then lord of Verona, Mastino I della Scala. The structure is surrounded on all sides by the waters of the lake and is equipped with high towers, from which it is possible to admire suggestive views on the surrounding areas. In addition to the views, moreover, through a guided tour it is possible to admire some internal and underground spaces of the castle, as well as the central courtyard of the building.
10) Castle of Bonoris (Montichiari)
On the Colle San Pancrazio, a Montichiari in the province of Brescia, stands the Castello Bonoris. Structure originally built in 1110, as a defensive fortress, then destroyed and rebuilt in the 17th century as a quarry for stones and construction materials. The visible aspect of the castle today, however, dates back to 1800, when the conte Gaetano Bonoris he decided to build his own residence of neo-Gothic and romantic inspiration. The halls inside the building are decorated by frescoes really fascinating and keep the furniture of the time in excellent condition. In addition, the whole structure is surrounded by a large park, well-kept and full of flowers and plants.