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Places of interest: Stately homes and Villas

Lantieri tower is located in the heart of Paratico village, itself located within the famous Franciacorta wine area, known for its exquisite wines and beautiful countryside which overlooks the south-east bank of Lake Iseo.

The tower was built by Lantieri family during the 14th century and, along with other fortified residential structures, is surrounded by a defensive wall. It’s construction seems to be linked to Giacomo Lanfranchino who purposely sought to expand the fortification structure of the village. It is structurally very well preserved and clearly shows it’s medieval architecture.

Externally, covered by local sandstone, to appears to be harsh, and rendered pleasant only by a few curved windows. It contains four floors and is built on top of a rocky outcrop in order to increase its defensive function.

The main entrance was located on the ground floor of the northern wall, made of a very valuable portal marked with the family’s stem. On the ground floor, covered by an arched stone ceiling, during the medieval era served as a canteen and deposit. The access to the superior level was possible only through a trap door located in the ceiling, while externally, through a wooden staircase, later rebuilt in monolithic stone. The tower, for a long period inhabited, is today property of the town hall.

Following an important conservative restoration commissioned by Paratico’s municipality and concluded in 2009, a quadrisphere, was positioned on the ground floor. Three examples of these Italian innovative installation exist, one of which is located in Rome’s CNR (Centro Nazionale della Ricerca). In entering, the visitor finds himself in an obscured room, and once the quardisphere is lit, he is literally catapulted into a new world made of images, mirrors, lights, colors and sounds. It is difficult to translate these effects into words.

We invite you to try this unforgettable experience for yourself.

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Palazzo Oldofredi was named after the aristocratic Iseo family which owned it in the 17th and 18th centuries. Built in the 17th century by the Bornati family it features a portico on its south face and Renaissance-style window frames. To the north-east its walled garden is austere looking with a square plan tower alongside it.

It is Cazzago San Martino town hall.

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The village of Adro is dominated by the high tower made of living stone, with Ghibelline battlements and a wide tetragonal base, which, with its ancient castle of which the ruins of the entrance to the drawbridge remain, was part of the medieval defensive system.

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Little is definitely known of the history of L’oselanda (bird hunting site), as this Neo-Gothic building is commonly known in local dialect, because specific documents are lacking. The only reliable source is thus the land registry and direct sources.

The building appears on the maps only in 1898, in the Kingdom of Italy’s land register, as the property of the Della Santa family, having been bought, together with other lands, from the Della Bianca de Colombo family. Subsequently the Della Santa family’s property passed to the Madruzza family and the Kingdom of Italy's land registry and the local town registry show it as the property of this latter (from 1905 to 1988) The date it changed hands is not known but it was probably a non-official inheritance deed, as the two families were relatives.

It remains unclear exactly when it was built but it must certainly have been in the period from 1852 – when the land was still registered as vineyard – and 1898, when it was recorded in the Kingdom of Italy's land registry. During recent restoration work the date 1873 was found on the wall to the right of the entrance lacking lateral windows, which is likely to be the date it was built.

It would thus seem to have been commissioned by the Della Bianca de Colombo or the Della Santa families.

It is built on two levels with a stringcourse featuring decorative geometric elements. There are three entrances on the ground floor, one per side with the two side doors having symmetrical windows on either side of them. Above the doors there are Gothic arches, a common theme with the windows. On the semi-circular side there are five windows, two of which are blind, with pointed arches above them.

There are three mullioned windows on the first floor with Gothic arches supported by local sandstone pilasters featuring decorative capitals and, in the semi-circular area, a loggia which is stylistically similar to the other windows. The decorations in the eaves are worthy of note, featuring a series of three-lobed archlets set into pointed arches echoed more simply below the stringcourse. All the decorative elements were carved directly into the surface prior to plastering.

From 1943 the building was used as a home with a hall, kitchen and bathroom on the ground floor, a hall and bedroom on the first floor and cellars below ground.

Paratico town council then bought it and its current form is the result of restoration work completed in the summer of 2001.

The matter of who it is to be attributed to is a separate one with specific studies and research concluding that it may have been the well-known Brescia architect Rodolfo Vantini. In fact, in Diarii Vantiniani (published in 1969 by Boselli), Vantini is mentioned as having been present in Rivatica in 1832, on invitation by Dr Della Bianca, to design Casino Gottico.

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Panoramic location.

The site of the castle suggests that it was built on the ruins of an earlier, prehistoric fortress. The site was certainly known to the Romans. The name of the village, which may derive from ‘capreulus’ (roe deer) or from the Caprioli family, was cited for the first time in a document dating to 879.

The castle was built at the turn of the 10th century and made a fief of the Lantieri family of Paratico. Together with similar buildings in Muzziga, Palazzolo sull'Oglio, Paratico and Venzago it was a fortress stronghold in the lengthy and bloody feudal battles between the peoples of Bergamo and Brescia for control over the river.

Swiss troops were stationed here during the war between the French and Spanish. In 1516 Capriolo fell into the hands of the French Lautrech army. In 1521 its people were obliged to take shelter in the mountains, having been warned of the imminent arrival of the troops of Prospero Colonna. Eight years later they decided to rebel against the imperial yoke and threw a great many soldiers into a ravine. It is not known whether the troops of the king took reprisals.

In 1610 Da Lezze described the fortress as ‘ruined, ancient and its walls destroyed’. At the end of the 17th century it was ceded to the nuns of the Isola delle Grazie in Venice who had moved to the convent built here in 1692. In 1812 this place of prayer passed to the Ursuline nuns.

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The castle was built on the hill above the village of Provaglio d’Iseo in the Piano delle viti area in a strategic position which is easily accessed on the historic road which climbs up to it from the villages of Provaglio d’Iseo, Zurane and Gresine, or from Iseo town, up the hillside and past sixteenth century Madonna del Corno sanctuary. The historical-archaeological area is free access and information panels tell visitors about it.

Catastico Bresciano by Giovanni Da Lezze (1609-1610) describes it as a ruined castle.

In 1680 Padre Fulgenzio Rinaldi, Iseo historian, wrote that Provaglio castle was razed to the ground in the early 15th century by Pandolfo Malatesta, lord of Brescia from 1404 to 1421, during his wars against the Visconti and their allies the Oldofredi.

In 1567, in the deeds relating to the pastoral visit of Bishop Bollani, Chiesa di Sant’Ambrogio in castro was recorded as under the town council’s control and without property, as a ruined church, and orders were issued that it should be reduced to votive shrine status.

Provaglio parish church was built in 1792 and dedicated to saints Peter and Paul on the site of an older church named after St Roch. Wanting to pay tribute to the saint protecting them against epidemics the people of Provaglio decided to devote the shrine which emerged from the ruins of the old castle to this latter saint and Chiesa di San Rocco was thus opened on 16 August 1868. There are anomalies in this single nave church both in its plan and the width of some of its walls suggesting that it was built on a pre-existing building.

The area was abandoned until 1999 when the archaeological excavations which unearthed evidence of its various building phases began and the site was made into a museum. To visit Chiesa di San Rocco, contact Provaglio d'Iseo town council - tel. 030 9291011.

The prehistoric finds include certain pottery fragments datable to the Bronze Age (2nd-1st millennium BC) while a series of post holes and fire pits may be evidence of the existence of a hut settlement here or an early medieval defensive barrier (6th-10th centuries).

These pre-existing elements were then built over, with the oldest fortifications dating to the castle building phase across virtually the whole of northern Italy in the 11th and 12th centuries. This consisted of extremely thick walls, around 1.10 metres thick, built in pebbles and limestone cemented together with mortar which encircled the highest part of the hill, were around 110 metres long and around 30 metres wide on average. Chiesa di Sant’Ambrogio may also have been built at this time, as the most recent restoration work revealed a semi-circular stone apse and two clearly Romanesque-style arched single light windows.

The most important building phase was the 13th and 14th centuries when the fortress was made into a fortified enclosure encompassing warehouses storing essential goods for the people of the village and acting as a refuge at times of danger. Access to the fortress was via a tower gate defended by a small moat crossed by a drawbridge and, at the far end, by a narrow and easy to defend postierla.

The castle itself consists of two areas: a first fortified enclosure in a raised position near the gate and, lower down, a further larger enclosure encompassing the caneve (cellars).

The first ring of walls enclosed a building containing large plastered walls and a robust keeptower. There was also a courtyard with well of which the large cistern below lined with opus signinum is still extant. In the 17th century the site was made into a small lazarette for plague victims with a well to provide water and solace to the sick.

The lower area was the full-blown fortified area containing a great many caneve cellars around the north and south walls. The interior spaces reflected the large number of owners characteristic of this type of castle, divided up between the local lords, the Oldofredi family and the heads of the vicinia local community families.

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The imposing ruins of the castle occupy the summit of the hill to the south of the town of Paratico, strategically dominating the end of Lake Iseo from above as well as the Sarnico fortress and its access roads at the point where it intersects with the Bergamo shore.

In complete disuse for over four centuries, today the castle is in a state of advanced decay and cannot be accessed. In the absence of an analysis of the archaeological strata, and with no documentary references pre-dating 1276, the building can be dated to the 12th or 13th centuries and was probably built on earlier defensive fortifications on the hill. The area's lords, primarily the Lanteri de Paratico, began building work and managed the building in shared ownership. The first full description dates to 1279, in Lanterio's Designamento (ownership list): the fortified settlement was essentially divided up between Chiesa di Santa Maria, Monastero di San Faustino and the LanterioVithotti and Fancone aristocratic families.

The defensive building is somewhat rudimentary, consisting of a keep and a ring of walls within which an older and smaller ring of walls is visible to the south. The largest surviving buildings are next to the walls to the north of the site.

The oldest building is a large rubble-stone tower whose original four floor volume is largely intact and which must have had a ring of eaves at a height of almost 15 metres.

The profile of a lower lying, more elongated building is visible to the east of the tower and can be identified as the palatiolum which was very commonplace in the late Middle Ages in the Alpine foothills and valleys of the Brescia and Bergamo areas.

The tower's wall structure means that it can be dated to the 12th or 13th century whilst the lower building’s pointed arches make it later, meaning that it must have been built later in the 14th century.

Chiesa di San Silvestro must have been immediately to the south of this zone, next to the ring of walls, on the basis of the Lanterio Designamento. A rise in the walls still marks the place where the church stood.

The main access to the castle was to the south-east and was protected by a tower with a square base, some of which is still standing, with a door featuring a worked stone frame and a pointed arch.

According to the Designamento there was almost certainly a square shaded by elm trees and a small clearing containing a cistern of drinking water near the entrance to the castle.

Inside the walls, now completely open and planted to vine, the area was organised into three north to south blocks. The buildings contained cellars and store rooms, hay barns, farmyards and porticoed structures. These rustic buildings enable Paratico castle to be identified as one of the temporary multi-owner defensive structure which were once so commonplace in the plains and hills across northern and central Italy, from the 10th to the 15th centuries.

These rustic buildings were primarily designed for the storage of agricultural produce and the people of the village and the surrounding area lived here only at times of crisis and danger.

Legend has it that Dante Alighieri stayed at Lantieri castle during his exile wanderings.


Angelo Valsecchi

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The castle can be visited externally as can its internal courtyard. The library can be visited during opening hours: Monday 2-6.30 pm, Tuesday and Friday 9-12 am and 2-7 pm, Thursday 2-6.30 pm and 7.30-9 pm, Saturday 9-12 am and 2-6 pm, Wednesday and Sunday closed.

Castello Oldofredi, one of the Brescia area's oldest and best conserved castles, is on a rocky outcrop to the south of the historic centre. There are two entrances, north and east with a massive flight of steps having been added to the latter in the 1980s. The site has been settled since Roman times and the first mention of a castle in Iseo is the Santa Giulia Polyptych, a list of the property of this Brescia monastery (late 9th-early 10th centuries). It is named after the aristocratic Iseo family but no documents testifying to the family's ownership or use of it have survived.

The oldest section is the keep (late 11th-early 12th centuries) in the south wing and no longer visible from outside. It is square plan and measures around 10 metres per side with thick stone walls only 12 metres of which are now extant. It was probably part of the castrum burnt down by Frederick Redbeard in 1161 and, in this case, it must have survived the destruction, as it is referred to in 17th century sources.

A new rectangular plan castle was built on the site of the castrum in the 13th and 14th centuries, made up of walls at right angles defended at the corners by square half towers open to the inside on an escarped base. It was encircled by a deep moat carved out of rock, some of which is now filled in. It was accessed to both north and south via two pointed arch gates and the keystone features the coats of arms of the powerful Veronese Della Scala family, allies of the Oldofredi family in the early 14th century. Both gates were preceded by large protruding avant corps which enabled carts and pedestrians to pass through and were closed off by wooden doors and a portcullis and equipped with a drawbridge. The first of these was protected by a tower, now no longer extant, over the avant corps and the latter by the keep whose side it was next to.

The fortress’s functions were twofold. It was a strategic local defensive stronghold and also controlled the town. Despite the castle’s dating coinciding with the brief period of Della Scala rule in the Brescia area and the presence of the family’s coat of arms it is not possible to determine whether it was built by the family because it is not clear whether the gates are contemporary with the rest of the building or were added later in the Della Scala era to an older building.

Under the period of Venetian rule the castle lost its military importance and passed into the hands of the Celeri family until 1585 when it was given to the Capuchin friars. It was then considerably modified: the irregular shaped ravelin, built outside the southern moat in the 15th century to defend the castle's external access, was made into the friars’ vegetable garden; the towers were lopped off at the top; Chiesa di San Marco was built and consecrated in 1629 as a single nave church with a barrel roof, lateral wings and a facade decorated with faux architecture.

In the 17th and 18th centuries a two floor building was added outside the north walls together with buildings along the three sides of the courtyard. The building to the south has a portico and loggia made of arches supported by masonry columns in rectangular section. On the ground floor a 17th century fresco depicts an exchange of gifts between a friar and a number of figures in Oriental dress. At the loggia level the remains of a Crucifixion are visible. There are 18th century frescoes along the staircase leading to the upper floors (Virgin of MercySt Fidelis of Sigmaringen), on the first floor (Ecce homoSt Anthony of Padua) and in the courtyard hall (Annunciation).

With the Napoleonic suppression of the monasteries in 1797 the friars left the building, which passed into private hands and was made into flats. It was bought by Iseo town council in the 1960s and restored. It is now still residential and also contains the civic library, a number of cultural associations and the civic meeting room in the former Chiesa di San Marco.

Angelo Valsecchi

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Only visitable outside.

The name Paderno, Franciacorta’s smallest town council, derives from the adjective paternal which, in Roman times, meant inherited lands. The finds recently unearthed near the Oldofredi castle site date precisely to the Roman era. And the document citing ‘Paterno’ as the site of a fortified settlement built to defend the town against the Hungarians who frequently raided and besieged the area’s towns in this period dates to 1009. The castle was also designed to protect people, livestock and agricultural produce, above all when the Barbarians attacked in the countryside and the town, which was easy to get to because Franciacorta Paderno has always been located in open countryside.

Over the centuries this fortified settlement gradually evolved into a full-blown fortress.

It was in 1242 that King Enzo of Gallura made it the centre of his military operations and in 1326 it was razed to the ground by the armies of Azzone of the Viscontis and reconquered by Piccinino in 1428, in his constant struggles against Gattamelata, before its nadir in 1512 during what has been called the ‘sack of Brescia’ by the French led by Gaston de Foix in which Paderno was looted and hundreds of its people killed, both peasants and soldiers.

Until then the castle had been one of the most imposing fortifications in the whole area. Radical renovation work in the 19th century unfortunately profoundly altered Oldofredi castle’s original form.

Two cylindrical corner towers and a wall from the original building have survived. 16th century Madonna in Castello church, within the walls, is still perfectly preserved. 19th century Chiesa di San Pancrazio is also fine.

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Visible externally on a straightforward walk.

In over half a millennium of intense historic vicissitudes Rovato Castle has played a crucial defensive role in the area and enjoyed the rare fortune of having preserved its original structure almost intact.
Built not on a hill but on an earth bank formed due to the earth moved, and ruins created, by earlier buildings, it was intersected by underground spaces and defended by a great moat – still visible today – around ten metres wide which drew water from the so-called Pozzo lungo, or long well, nearby.
At the end of the 14th century, the medieval castle was equipped with three rings of defensive walls.
In 1470 Venice, which was interested in strengthening the castle's defences, ordered the building of five towers as well as bunkers and ravelins. Both towers and walls were built in ordered rows of squared-off blocks of stone from Monte Orfano. Only three of these towers have survived: the north tower was destroyed in 1796 and the south tower was demolished in 1840 to make way for the Vantini porticoes.
With its Venetian walls, Rovato castle is one of Italy’s most impressive castles and it also has two bastions near the south and north gates (demolished in the 19th century and partly conserved underneath Piazza del Mercato) which are some of the earliest examples of Italian military architecture.

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For almost two centuries piazza Cavour has been the heart of Rovato. Its main characteristics are the beautiful semicircular arcade to the north of the square and the peculiar cobblestone pavement. The realization of this square was promoted in 1838 by Carlo Angelini who was the provost at the time. His intention was to create a market square and he assigned the architect Rodolfo Vantini the task of planning the work. In order to make room for this square the south walls of the castle (dating back to 1453) were demolished and the old moat was filled in. Vantini decided to spare the entrance of the castle with its imposing arch which even now leads to the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta and to the heart of old Rovato. In more recent years, then, new shops and porticos were built in order to satisfy the influx of tradesmen who come to Rovato every week on market day (the market now is held in Foro Boario area). Piazza Cavour hosts now many events, such as concerts, theatre and cinema shows and trade exhibitions.

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Built in the late 19th-early 20th centuries by Gianpaolo Cavalleri, perhaps to designs by Negroni, the building was originally surrounded by a high protective wall which blocked it from view. In 1973 it was sold to the town council which dismantled its ring of walls but also tore down its large Deposition fresco which was moved to the hall's north wall. This latter was the work of Mr Manenti of Rovato. The hall was restored in 2002-03, when its wrought iron chandelier was replaced with the current Murano glass one. The building underwent significant internal wall changes on the first floor which involved adapting it to its town hall functions by significantly altering its original architectural plan. The ground floor decorations and those on the ceiling of the flight of stairs to the first floor are very interesting. The decorations are in the Art Nouveau and Eclectic styles popular in this period. The building's terracotta and wooden floors are all original. In 2008 the decorations on the facade were restored.

With a large lawn in front, the building’s sombre, solid architecture is tempered by the interplay of full and empty spaces provided by the portico and towers on its east and west facades. A small porter's lodge opens up at the eastern edge of the lawn from the road, which is now a busy shopping street. The building’s layout is longitudinal and its south facade features a sequence of attractive Sarnico stone columns with Tuscan style capitals supporting six round-arches with large spaces between the columns corresponding to the space between the first floor windows. The west facade, which juts out from the south face, features a little tower with ground and upper floor windows culminating in a double lancet window decorated with a terracotta cable design. At the apex of the tower is a slender loggia held up by colonettes and four central arches on the four sides. At the far eastern edge of the building a little tower tangential to the wall, and set considerably back from the façade, highlights the three eastern facade first floor windows whose decorative framework echoes that of the south facade.

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The Clusane com’era (Clusane as it was) itinerary consists of nine panels located in specific historic town centre sites. These give visitors an insight into the town as it would have looked around sixty years ago and the way it has changed. The installations pay tribute to Carlo Lanza who, in addition to his educational work and his efforts to promote Clusane’s social and economic progress (as one of the founders of the fishing cooperative), left a large photographic archive to his fellow townspeople in which he captured the atmosphere, expressions and faces of his native town.

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As early as the thirteenth century, this was the seat of the fiefdom of della Corte. The current complex was built around two centuries later, and it still retains its original seventeenth century structure. The noble della Corte family from Iseo later joined to that of the Monti of Montichiari barons, hence the name of the Palace. The current owners, Counts Marie-José and Alessandro d’Ansembourg, are the descendants of this family, which is almost a thousand years old. For over four centuries, Palazzo Monti della Corte has welcomed friends and guests in an elegant, romantic and intimate atmosphere. The surrounding environment is full of charm and beauty, making the Palace and its vast rooms and lovely garden the ideal setting for important moments and exclusive events, meetings and weddings. The seventeenth-century staircase in Sarnico stone leads the way from the great hall to the most exclusive areas of the Palace: the large gallery and the elegant Blue Room. The gallery is decorated with stucco, eighteenth-century friezes and rich gilt mirrors and extends for the entire length of the facade, with large windows that offer panoramic views of the magnificent garden, while the Blue Room enchants visitors with its majestic fireplace, exquisite Murano glass chandelier and timeless charm.

The palace can not be visited.
Location available for events and weddings.

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Rovato town hall is very old, perhaps older than its late 15th century castle. The castle was built during the period of Venetian rule in such a way as to incorporate part of the town into its walls, characteristic of Gothic urbanisation over the Roman castrum. The town hall is a complex of buildings structured into three varying main blocks dating to different periods: the block on Via Lamarmora believed to be late 15th century; another building, once again on Via Lamarmora, dating to the 15th century and a last portion between Vicolo delle Rose and Vicolo delle Cantine built in the 13th and14th centuries. It is popularly believed that famous artist Alessandro Bonvicino, or Il Moretto, lived in a portion of the current town hall.

Of note is the considerable use of Sarnico stone, the characteristic portico with its three archway barrel vaults and its light-filled loggia with three lintelled windows now glazed with windows formed by pairs of ionic columns. The wooden ceiling decorations would seem to have been painted dry for the most part, with tempera. After restoration work its frescoes will be dazzling. Given the presence of multiple layers of plaster the local superintendency has agreed that the plaster over the frescoes should be removed.

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Villa Fassati Barba, an elegant mansion dating back to 17 th century, is located in the heart of  of Franciacorta. 

This house is one of the many beautiful mansions of the Fenaroli Family that owned properties throughout the entire province of Brescia.


From the centuries-old park of the Villa, dominated by majestic trees, you can admire the medieval castle of Passirano, surrounded by rolling hills with a hundred acres of green vineyards.

Villa Fassati Barba is the ideal location for every event: weddings, parties, gala dinners and corporate events can find the perfect set in this ancient and noble house.

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