Italy's sleeping beauty: 400-year-old castle near Venice brought back to life

Jul 01, 2017 1147

BY: Myra Robinson

It’s amazing, given the millions who flock into Venice, that hardly any tourists venture beyond the lagoon. Just 50km from la Serenissima, on the fringes of the volcanic Euganean hills, which provided stone for the pavements of Venice a millennium ago, there’s an enormous undiscovered castle. Castello del Catajo was built by the Obizzi family in around 1570 and is one of the largest in Italy, with more than 350 rooms. Passionate about all things medieval, they chose to build a castle, rather than follow the fashion of the day by building a grand villa.

There are external staircases suitable for horses, so that the nobles didn’t have to dismount to reach the grand first-floor rooms, and a courtyard that could be flooded to stage miniature naval battles for the entertainment of 17th- and 18th-century aristocrats. Backed by conical, vineyard-covered hills, the majestic, ochre-coloured castle sits on the banks of the Battaglia canal, dug in the 13th century to connect the area to Venice. 

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