Castelbrando castle is located on a hill overlooking the tiny village Cison di Valmarino. The Castelbrando area was a defensive post under the Roman empire. Then, during the Hungarian invasions in the Middle Ages, an actual fortress was built. After several changes in ownership through the centuries (including that of Doge Marin Faliero, of whom I had already spoken – if you want to learn more readmy post about the Doge’s Palace in Venice), in 1436 the Republic of Venice donated the Castle to two valorous warriors.
They were Brandolino Brandolini da Bagnacavallo and Erasmo da Narni, also called Gattamelata (whose statue you can admire outside St. Anthony’s Basilica in Padova. You can take a look at my post Padua the city of the 3 without). Gattamelata, eager to return to the battlefield (he faught until he turned 70), sold his part (3.000 golden ducats) to Brandolino, whose rule brought a long period of peace. (Very long. In fact his heirs kept it until 1959).
Our tourist guide, the nice and also beautiful Alessia, explained us that the right part of the building is the 1500s one, while the left part dates back to the 1700s. In 1700s in fact the Brandolinis restored and adapted the building to their refined way of life, transforming the castle into a noble palace. They used an earthquake-proof system and also an innovative heating system, based on furnaces and pipes. Sadly the expenses after an earthquake (the oldest part wasn’t anti-seismic) and a fire, plus the gambling problem of a member of the family led the Brandolini to sell the property to the Salesians, that used it as a seminar. The family moved to a villa near Treviso, where they still live. The entrepreneur Massimo Colomban took over the Castle in 1997. He started a big renovation work and opened a 4 stars hotel.
To reach the Castle you have to take the funicular railway (1€ each), which is located on the edge of the village, at the bottom of the Castle. There you can park your car for free. The lots closer to the funicular are those for the Castelbrando hotel guests (or at least, it was so during the Christmas markets which had attracted many more visitors than usual). Once entered, you have to insert the euro coin (the day we went it was for free), pass the rotating doors and then take the funicular, which looks like an elevator. The floor you have to chose is number 6 or 7. Oh, sorry, I don’t remember any more and I forgot to take pictures! What a scatterbrain!
As soon as we arrived, we followed the arrow indicating “Ufficio guide” or something like that. Oh God, I’m quite forgetful today. We took a few picture of the amazing panorama and then we joined a guided tour (the average tour, which lasts about 50 minutes). It is mainly focuses on an historical explanation of the building, with a brief visit to some parts of the castle. We saw the carriages parking lot (recesses along the exterior wall), former guard tower, one of the bars where you can see an escaping passage, the hotel lobby whit the monumental staircase (luckily there is an elevator. I climbed the stairs and then I was breathless).
Then we proceeded towards the courtyard, the Armory (except for a bunch of Roman pieces all the other displayed weapons and armours are copies created by a skillful artisan, the same who created the weapons and similar for “Robin Hood prince of thieves” (great Alan Rickman by the way) and for… really? No this I must remember… “Braveheart” (I admit it, I spied), the prisons with their horrible instruments of torture, one of the dining halls (it is no big deal but… those chairs? Totally unsuitable for such a place imho), whilst the little parlour you can see among the pictures… well, I saw the half opened door and I took a pic, I couldn’t resist. I felt obliged towards my readers to provide as much documentary evidence as possible :). I do it for you. Really.
Did you know that…
- Upon arrival people could tell if a guest was welcomed or not, by observing the count’s behaviour. If the count liked the guest, he went all down the stairs to salute him. If not, he remained on the top of the staircase.
- Brandolini family crest: It is white and red with scorpions. During the First Crusade, Sigismondo Brandolini defeated in a duel an Arab, whose symbol was a scorpion, and decided to insert it in the crest.
- One of the most peculiar weapons of the collection is a misericordia (mercy), used in the battlefield to finish a mortally wounded man. Often the decision whether to use it or not was taken by priests.
Castelbrando – In conclusion
To sum up the experience I must say that it was indeed interesting. The Castle is beautiful, the view was spectacular, and also it is surely a romantic place for couples. The visit was a bit disappointing. I honestly do not know what I expected, maybe I thought I would have seen the ancient room of the count or something but probably it went lost many years ago.
There are in fact a Spa, a restaurant, a pizzeria, several bars, a conference centre (with 3 theatres and 7 meeting rooms) and a souvenirs shop. It is in all and for all an hotel. I think that to judge it properly, to verify if the atmosphere for the hotel guest is really relaxing, romantic and worth the expense, a person (= me) should stay there at least a couple of days. If I’ll ever have the occasion, I’ll surely provide you with a more precise review. Of course between the lines I’m shamelessly trying to get an invitation. And what about you? Have some of you stayed at Castelbrando? How was your experience?
Via Brandolini Brando, 29 – Cison di Valmarino TV
The guided tour office is open only on Sundays and holidays or by appointment
from April to September 10.15 – 11.30 am and 3.00 – 7.00 pm
from October to March 10.15 – 11.30 am and 2.00 – 6.00 pm
€ 8.00 per person
If you’re interest on the weapons creator go to the website www.deltin.net