Huge Lost Medieval and Renaissance Castle Complex Discovered in Italy
A large medieval or Renaissance castle has been discovered amongst the foliage of a hill in Lazio, Italy. The discovery was made after investigations based on satellite imaging, which clearly revealed a site the same shape as another Renaissance castle in the region. A team was dispatched to the site, and they uncovered fortified walls, partial towers and subterranean rooms. There was also an Etruscan tomb, which was previously known.
Independent Researcher Finds Lost Fortified Complex
On the final day of the exploration of the remnants of Renaissance Italy’s feudal defense systems, Marcello Assandri visited the site of Torre d’Ischia in order to seek proof of his hypothesis that this site was once far more than the simple tower that is shown on the map and in the historic records of the region. His research into the Renaissance history of the area, covered over the last week in the Ancient Origins Hidden Renaissance Castles series, had led him to believe it was actually the site of a fully-fledged castle which has been left out of the historic records for the area, and lost to time.
On his visit to the site, he has found conclusive proof that there existed a huge structure at this site, as his team found the remains of:
- fortified walls in a large perimeter around the known tower
- lower parts of fortification towers still standing
- evidence of a subterranean level, still to be explored.
The evidence he has found corroborates his research and is presented in a compelling video of the investigation of the site, showing the physical proof of Renaissance fortification features that he was hoping for.
The finding now needs further research from the local historic authorities and specialists in order to establish exactly what this structure was and to which era or eras the various elements relate.
Below is Marcello’s description of how he formulated the conclusions about the site, and the footage of him and his team uncovering the all-important evidence.
Day 6: Finding the Lost Castle of Torre d’Ischia in Vejano, by Marcello Assandri
When we visited the Castle of Oriolo at the beginning of the Hidden Renaissance Castles series, I showed a painting of the main castle of Viano, with two of its minor castles faintly visible in the background: Alteto and Torre d’Ischia. The name and most mentions of the Torre d’Ischia site suggest it to simply be a tower, but a satellite image seems to refute this.
Arial view of the Torre d’Ischia site. (Source: geographical positioning https://mapcarta.com/W394064226/Map)
The similarities with Sarzanello Fort, a military castle of the Sangallo School, found north along the coast in Tuscany, is striking. Sarzanello is a very well-preserved example of a Renaissance fortified castle.
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the two sites, with Torre d’Ischia on the left and Sarzanello Castle, of the Anthony Sangallo the Elder, on the right.
Marcello Assandri’s image from his book the History of the Viano Feud. (Marcello Assandri)
Considering the obvious tree lines, this appears to betray a clear fortification line with unmistakable similarities to existing forts. This was subsequently confirmed by the team I went with to the site.
Combining this with the fact the castle of Torre d'Ischia is mentioned in the notary document of 1493, and its portrait in the painting in Oriolo in 1595, offers compelling proof of the castle at this location.
The only other historic observations besides the tower at this site have been of the Etruscan tombs, and the possibility of an Etruscan fort here. But my investigation on the ground has revealed fortification walls and towers which appear to be of a later date, some with characteristics of Renaissance architecture, as I suspected. There is no castle known to Renaissance historians recorded at this site.
I will leave it to you to decide if my hypothesis is correct, considering the evidence I present to you here, but further investigations are certainly needed for confirmation.
Please watch the video of when I was on site at Torre d’Ischia. If my hypothesis proves true, we have found a castle of the Sangallo School which was not known to military Renaissance experts!
Some of the plentiful evidence of fortification. Left, a Renaissance looking wall, with arrowslit. Right the base of a tower. ((2023 Assandri)
For more details of this finding, or the informative and adventurous history tours Marcello provides, contact him at: [email protected]
Hidden Renaissance Castles Series: Day 6, Final Location: The Towers of Orlando
Marcello had one more unexpected turn in his investigations – finding two towers where there was only expected to be one at the Torre d’Orlando (Tower of Orlando) site, nearby. He can hardly contain his excitement:
Pope Borgia Alexander VI reformed the military, importing from Spain the ‘Hermandad’ system that had allowed the Catholic kings of Spain to control the vast territory of Spain newly liberated in 1492. Pope Borgia paid for local military forces and paid for the restructuring of castles where the soldiers needed to be protected. In fact, Pope Borgia inherited two areas of the Papal States infested with robbers. One of them was bordering the Viano Feud.
Towers at the time served a function similar to our mobile phones today, for communicating messages, and, in particular, warnings. An hour of warning gained meant to live or to escape slavery in this area where the slave trade was very active. In the Viano castle, up to 500 people could find refuge.
I have visited the Torre d’Orlando site on the Via Frangigena, the Pilgrims Road of the Renaissance. I was surprised to find two towers there, where I had only expected one. They were totally different types, with different purposes and ages. The video walks you through the site.
The Tower(s) of Orlando (Torre d’Orlando). (2023 Assandri)
For background information on the history of this area, and to follow Marcello’s fascinating revelations in the countryside of Lazio, Italy, here are links to the previous articles in the series:
- Unearthing Italy's Hidden Renaissance Castles 1: The Borgia and Orsini Affair
- Unearthing Italy's Hidden Renaissance Castles 2: Bracciano Castle, the Orsini HQ
- Unearthing Italy's Hidden Castles 3: Rites and Recreation in the Renaissance
- Unearthing Italy's Hidden Renaissance Castles 4: Escape Route Rome
The Grand Finale: La Rocca Castle Opens Its Doors After 414 Years
Marcello’s investigations were inspired by his home, in a Borgia tower, and largely centered around the castle in Vejano, known as La Rocca. Here is his postscript, and news of the grand finale of his adventure, to occur tomorrow, 26th September:
After 414 years, the castle of Viano in Vejano, Italy will be open to experts coming from seven countries. The Prince Landolfo di Napoli Rampolli, whose family has owned the castle for more than 400 years, has invited experts from seven countries for a private visit. What is inside is not known to academics, scholars, adventurers or explorers. Military Architecture of the Renaissance will enter for the first time the castle of Vejano.
On September 26th at 12:00 we (Marcello and the group of delegates) will enter the castle of Vejano for a one-hour private tour which is included in the pilot tour of Forte Cultura, an international group of military history experts, who will visit the following Borgia castles: Castel Sant’Angelo (Head Quarter, Rome), in the northeast military sector starting from right to left on the map: Civita Castellana (Pope Borgia), Nepi (Lucrezia Borgia), Viano for Cesare Borgia (Vejano), the port of Civitavecchia. South sector: the triangular castle of Ostia. Southeast sector: Nettuno (Pope Borgia), Sermoneta (Juan Borgia).
They will be privileged to view and assess the interior of the castle for the first time in over four centuries. Ancient Origins will report back.
For more details of the discoveries throughout this series and of the informative and adventurous history tours Marcello provides, contact him at: [email protected]
All video courtesy of Marcello Assandri.
With thanks to Andrea Kerschbaumer for providing the transport. https://montepana.it/en/
By Gary Manners