TodiCastle - True Umbria
Aerial view of the TodiCastle Estate
|Restored by||Marcello Confetti, Giorgio Leoni and Vittorio Garatti|
|Owner||Mario Santoro - Woith|
The TodiCastle Estate includes the Castle of Capecchio, the Castrum Ilionis Archaeological Park, and four villas designed by Italian architect Vittorio Garatti (Villa Pianesante, Villa Cipresso, Villa Carina and Villa Campo Rinaldo). The Estate is located 15 km south of the town of Todi, to the east side of the town of Collelungo, which is part of the Municipality of Baschi, near Terni, in Umbria, Italy.
The Castle of Capecchio
The Castle of Capecchio was built 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 in the mid-8th century 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. 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.
In the Castle of Capecchio several additional towers were built in the 10-13th centuries and the original tower was incorporated into a now larger fort or Rocca. There were three towers in the corners and a large bastion wall to protect the wide territory. The castle was quite important during the wars between Guelphs and Ghibellines 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. 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.
TodiCastle was important not just from the military point of view but also because of its geographic location. 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. Todi flourished in the 13th century.
In 1348 the Black Plague struck and later in the mid-14th century the municipality of Todi collapsed. In the later years, the Castle of Capecchio even after the bubonic plague decimated the local countryside. The castle was also abandoned by the warriors and soldiers and then used by the wanderers.
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 Paparini 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 restoration of the Castle of Capecchio, that took place from 1975 to 1980, was entrusted to three architects namely Marcello Confetti, Giorgio Leoni and Vittorio Garatti.
In 1980, the Castle of Capecchio was declared a national monument. 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 area of this estate spans to 45-acres. 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.
The exterior decorations of the Castle of Capecchio 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 Orvieto Cathedral, with the design and style evolving from golden late Romanesque to Gothic, 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.
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 the 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 Castrum Ilionis
The Castrum Ilionis was one of the many castles built by the comune of Todi as part of its extraordinary fortified system during the 13th century. The area of the Castrum was the scene of the clash between the Longobards and the Byzantines, and then between the papacy and the empire. Unfortunately, however, there are very few material testimonies of this tormented story. The most important indication comes from the toponyms, which, due to the close engagement of names of Germanic origin and Latin origin, testify that the shift between Longobards and Byzantines was capillary and stretched almost to the whole area.
From Charlemagne onwards, the most important historical testimony is represented by the great feudas in which the territory was subdivided. Each of these was headed by an important family and principally: the Acts for the same Todi, the Montemarte for the northwestern area towards Orvieto, the Chiaravalle for the east, with the Acquasparta epicenter, the Arnolfi for Massa Bindi, Francisci for Baschi and finally Landi, dominating in the south of Todi between Vagli, Morre and Collelungo to the watershed of Monte Croce. Testimony of the importance of these families and of their robust survival is given by the statute of the Comune of Todi dated 1337, which regulates the relations between these families and their feuds and the comune. As far as their distant origins date back to the end of the preceding millennium, only the testimony is made up of very elaborate pedigree trees, with which the family is often referred to as legendary capostipits.
Of the Acts, the Montemarte, the Chiaravalle, the Arnolfi and the Francisci, there is in fact no material sign that allows us to establish a relationship between these families and their respective fiefs, as well as the places where they originally resided.
This is not the case for Landi, which has a clear track of their original settlement before the development of the Comune. We have the extraordinary fortune to admire in its entirety and in its good state of conservation the "Castrum Ilionis", which was the home of the family itself, as well as the "Villa" in which the lord's subordinates live. The Castiglione, or Castrum Ilionis, was the residence of Landi, who was probably the founder of the family, and in the contiguous Villa de Franconibus lived his people. Del Castrum remains a very well preserved tower, masonry, terrain, underground and defense bastions. Next to a vast space, the remains of a fortified village, a pievania and a cemetery are unfortunately in less good conservation conditions. All on the top of a hill dominates a vast area isolated from deep ravines, at the bottom of which flows streams at that time much more water than they are now.
For the benefit of scholars and researchers there is the circumstance, most unique and rare, that this area was completely abandoned in the 14th century for uncertain causes, but probably linked to the great economic and social crisis that coincided with the spread of plague, and from that never more inhabited or cultivated. The suburban abandonment of its inhabitants has meant that during the seven centuries that had passed since the area where some form of agriculture had been practiced, they covered with lush forests, while the summit, on which more specifically the ruins of the Castrum and its annexes, reduced to an unpaved clear, good at harvesting wild asparagus.
The importance of the area, which includes so important testimonies in an age that was still very poor in material remains and remained undisturbed by altering its character, has not escaped some prominent personalities and distinguished scholars. First of all to the bishop of Todi: in fact, the area once belonged to the Landi, in the sixteenth century became part of the vast properties of the Diocese, for which, in any case, it was not a burden to be enforced. In another context, Professor Enrico Menesto, a distinguished professor of the University of Perugia, a medievalist emeritus, president of the Spoleto Middle Ages Studies Center, who devoted himself to the period ahead of the development of common major works. In addition to Filippo Orsini, emeritus director of the Historic Archive of Todi.
Villas on the Estate
The Santoro Family, who is the present owner of the Estate, also restored several historic facilities that were spread over the Estate, including a former olive oil mill (Villa Cipresso), a 19th Century stone farmhouse (Villa Pianesante), a Farm (Villa Campo Rinaldo) and a Cottage (Villa Carina), currently all functioning as rental accommodations.
The Estate is currently owned and managed by renowned photo-artist Mario Santoro - Woith.
Legends about ghosts
According to another legend, the Landi family wanted to sell the castle in the 16th century when Lucrezia, Gerolamo Landi's wife died in 1723 while delivering her first child. She was buried in the castle, in the chapel. According to the locals, the ghost of Lucrezia still wanders through the rooms of the castle on many occasions.
The Castle of Capecchio 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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