Aerial view of the TodiCastle
|Architect||Marcello Confetti, Giorgio Leoni and Vittorio Garatti|
The TodiCastle also known as Capecchio is a castle located c. 15 km south of the town of Todi, on a hilltop to the east side of a town called Collelungo, which is part of the Municipality of Baschi, near Terni, in Umbria, Italy. The Castle was recently recognized as Residenza d 'Epoca, belonging to the National Heritage. It is also part of the prestigious Italian Castle circuit Institute, an international organization under the auspices of the UNESCO.
TodiCastle is one of the finest example of Italian architecture. The area of this estate spans to 45-acres. The castle was originally built in 1100 AD as a watch tower but later on evolved into a castle. The construction of the TodiCastle was entrusted to three architects namely Marcello Confetti, Giorgio Leoni and Vittorio Garatti.
TodiCastle was built as a watch tower around 1100, during Roman times, in order to protect the Colonia Julia Fida Tuder (Todi Roman name) for the southern boundary line. Torre d'Orlando (former name of the watch tower) was built in a strategic position, to look over the area bounded by the river Tiber, the river Arnata and a famous Roman road, the via Amerina, which linked Todi to Lazio. Its strategic function continued into the Middle Ages. When Desiderius, the last king of the Lombard realm, reigned over Italy. The territory of the Julia colony was granted to the Pope; five hundred years later, in 1275, it became the Diocese of Todi and then the Municipality of Todi.
Several additional towers were built from the 10-13th century and the original tower was incorporated into a fort named TodiCastle. There were three towers in the corners and a large bastion wall to protect the wide territory. Todi flourished in the 13th century.
The food for the animals and the soldiers were stored in very large quantities within the castle and the rain water was collected for drinking. The soldiers lived in the towers and the animals were kept in the open areas. The castle was the key point for all the Northern European pilgrims that used to travel to Rome and soon enough the area became quite wealthy due to commerce and trade. In 1348 the Black Plague struck and later in the mid-14th century the municipality of Todi collapsed.
In the later years, TodiCastle continued to stand as a desolated territory with many abandoned villages, since the plague made the population less. The castle was also abandoned by the warriors and soldiers and then used by the wanderers. During 15th century, the castle was turned into a monastery. A roof was constructed in the courtyard and the space was transformed into a church dedicated to Saints Julietta and Quiricus.
Later, in the 17th century, the monastery was also abandoned and the castle became the object of dispute among several local lords. Lastly, the Landi family of Todi gained ownership of the castle. However, even then the castle remained abandoned for three hundred years. During those years the castle was sacked by hordes of barbarians, and occasionally occupied by bandits.
In the 18th century, the castle was finally acquired by the Paprini family who were the most important landowners in the area of Moruzze and Todi. and then, in 1974, by Italian Ambassador Giuseppe Santoro and since then is owned by the Santoro family.
The exterior decorations of the TodiCastle are among the finest in Italian architecture. The Estate is surrounded by 250 acres consisting of vineyards, olive groves, fruit trees and cypresses. There are two small villages within 1 km. of the castle for simple shopping, and Todi, 15 km. Away, is a hill town Orvieto, built on sharp-sided tufo hill has a beautiful, golden late Romanesque - Gothic cathedral with works by Signorelli, Orcagna, Andrea and Nino Pisano. The famous S. Patrizio's well is 13 meters wide and has a helix staircase which allowed mules to go up and own without crossing. During the year many religious and lay festivals, operas and concerts are organized in this area including the Spoleto Festival of the Two Worlds.
Back in 13th century food for animals and soldiers was stored in very large quantities within the castle .The rain water was collected for drinking. The soldiers lived in the towers and the animals were kept in the open areas. Due to these activities the castle was totally in a form of despair. With the passage of time during 15th century when it became a montesary, a roof was constructed in the courtyard and the space was transformed into a church dedicated to Saints Julietta and Quiricus. Now the Santoro family has renovated and redesigned the castle from inside. Within the castle, ancient stones, stout wooden beams frame chambers are decorated which now have become hallmarks of aristocratic bastions. The work of the architect has been a restoration.
The Municipality of Baschi wanted total control of the area, so more than 5000 men were dedicated to build a large fortification system which included towers and fortresses, city walls and fortified historic towns. TodiCastle was quite important during the wars between Gibellines and Guelphs in the 13th century. The fortress was totally self-sufficient and there were no windows at all. Several small openings were made in the structure for the positioning of bows and arrows, which can be seen even today.
There were a few secret passages under the walls of the castle which were found during the various renovation projects. These were the routes through which the soldiers could escape in case the castle had to be relinquished. TodiCastle was important not just from the military point of view but also because of its geographic location.
The small town of Umbria, also known as Green Heart of Italy has now become a tourist attraction. In 1980, the TodiCastle was declared a national monument and since then it has appeared in several magazines. Today the TodiCastle is one of the best preserved castles from the medieval age in the area, and speaks of the history of the Umbria region in Italy. The restoration work itself took as long as ten years. The name of the castle was changed several times over the centuries. It was known as Capecchio, Cassa Treia and Casa Arsiccia at various times.
The Santoro Family, who are the present owners of TodiCastle, live in another part of the castle and rent their castle and the surrounding villas to tourists for spending vacations, family reunion's etc.
For the purpose of accommodation of tourists, the Santoro family has also restored an olive oil mill, a stone farmhouse and a cottage in the surroundings of TodiCastle. These buildings have been turned into villas.
The Todi Castle is set on Umbrian hillside. Once used for war, it is now a peaceful and comfortable place with amazing views and excellent location and services for guests. The Castle is a typical example of the 13th-century fortresses that were built in the Todi Area. The same shape of building has also been built by the crusaders in the Middle East. A reference could be Castel del Monte, with its minimalistic style.
Villa Pianesante is a 17th-century, stone farmhouse that has been completely restored, retaining its original Umbrian features. The villa is situated on a hilltop in the countryside with views of the valley below. This villa is present on the grounds of Todi Castle Estate, and is surrounded by natural beauty of the area. Villa Pianesante is situated between the medieval cities of Todi and Orvieto.
Villa Cipresso was originally an olive oil mill, used for centuries by the local community. The Villa Cipresso is now fully restored and is also used by the tourists for their stay.
Villa Campo Rinaldo
Villa Campo Rinaldo has also been fully restored and now features welcoming rooms and offers all the modern conveniences.
According to many legends, there are still ghosts of medieval soldiers which haunt the castle. According to another legend, the Landi family wanted to sell the castle in the 16th century when Lucrezia, Gerolamo Landi's wife died of plague. She was buried in the castle, in its chapel.
According to the locals, the ghost of Lucrezia still wanders through the rooms of the castle on many occasions. The Todi Castle has always been an important monument in the region ever since it was built, and now the stories and legends attached to it only add to its fascination for many tourists who visit the region.
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