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Marcello Assandri

I was born in Milan, Italy, and I lost my father at the tender age of six. He was a famous Tenor, the Tenor Virginio Assandri who had recorded with the iconic Maestro Arturo Toscanini in 1956 in New York the legendary recording of the Othello. My mother was an Opera Singer, the Dramatic Soprano Florida Norelli Assandri, who took care of me and my brother. 

I graduated from UCLA in Los Angeles with a Degree in East Asian Studies, China Major and Japan, Minor and went to China in 1986 to study.

China was a fixation of my mother. One day returning from singing in Dublin, Ireland, I remembered her saying “Emilio, when I was on stage dressed as the Princess in Turandot of Puccini, I felt that I had lived in China before.”.  That explained to me why in our living room, my mother in Rome used to collect Chinese antique ceramics. 

During a second stay in Shanghai years later I began to study the History of the Jesuits in China in Ming and Qing Times.  I read texts in Italian from Jesuits like Matteo Ricci, Giuseppe Castiglione and others. In the Jesuit Library in Shanghai I came across Viano. 

We bought a late 14th century Tower Palace in Vejano and have restructured over the course of 20 years.  Over these 20 years I have also worked to have Vejano (prior to 1872, Viano) recognized by the Forte Cultura Association in Berlin. In cooperation with the Mayor of Vejano, Teresa Pasquali, the Director of Forte Cultura, Dr. Neumann, and the owner of the Castle of Viano, Prince Landolfo di Napoli Rampolla, a private visit was arranged inside the castle of Viano, in Vejano, Italy.

I have extensively researched the history of the region, and will tell that story by video visits to the actual sites, and through article descriptions.

For more detailson the informative and adventurous history tours Marcello provides, contact him at:  [email protected]


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Left, Santacroce tower, Rome Right, Marcello Assandri at Castel S Angelo, Rome. Source: Marcello Assandri

Unearthing Italy's Hidden Renaissance Castles 4: Borgia Strongholds of Rome

Rome was the adopted hometown of the Borgia; they were originally from the Catalan region of Spain. The Roman branch of the Santacroce family had lived in Rome for a few centuries. In this episode,...
Left; Vejano Castle, Vejano, Italy, street view of tower and entry bridge. Right, the triangular Vejano castle from above. Source: Left; Croberto68/ CC BY-SA 3.0, Right; Google Earth

Unearthing Italy's Hidden Castles 3: Rites and Recreation in the Renaissance

How did people unwind in the Renaissance? Well, spa baths were still popular since the days of the Roman Republic, but also competitions, and of course, who doesn’t love a good feast? All of these...
Bracciano Castle, Lazio, Italy.	Source: franco lucato/Adobe Stock /Adobe Stock

Unearthing Italy's Hidden Renaissance Castles: Bracciano Castle, the Orsini HQ

The current castle at Bracciano - Orsini-Odescalchi Castle - was built by Napoleone Orsini and his son Virginio starting in 1470. It is one the best maintained castles in Italy and host to numerous...
Marcello at the site of Alteto Castle, near Vejano, Lazio, Italy. Source: Marcello Assandri

Unearthing Italy's Hidden Renaissance Castles: The Borgia and Orsini Affair

Having a home in the fascinating historic town of Vejano, north of Rome, fueled Marcello Assandri’s curiosity about the history of the area. He has scoured the National State Italian Archive, the...