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Castello Scaligero di Villimpenta
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Comune di Villimpenta
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Villimpenta Castle (Mantua) derives its name from the Latin Villa Impicta, that is to say ‘painted villa’. The legend goes that the fortress was built at the demand of Attila the Terrible. Then, in 1391, the castle, till that moment a Scala family’s estate, was purchased by the Gonzagas. The enchanting Medieval Festival is inspired by that occasion and wants to recreate the splendour of those days. For four days, dames and knights, merchants and common people, falconers and jokers, artisans and archers will take visitors back into the enchanting atmospheres of the XIVth century. Villimpenta castle/enclosure is one of the most remarkable medieval fortresses in the Po Plain, it was built by 1074 as a fortified monastery, housing the famous church of S. Andrea, under S. Zeno of Verona’s control, on a mostly swampy area. Later documents show the castle became a possession of the Scala family who commissioned a massive restoration in the early 1300’s which gave the castle its present structure, according to the standards of Venetian military architecture. The castle was an important element of the defensive system which, since the Middle Ages, stretched from river Po to Lake Garda, between Mantua and Verona. Though the most radical restoration works were carried out by the Scalas, they only shortly used the castle; it was the Gonzagas who immediately understood its defensive and strategic potential, bought it and made it one of their main defensive strongholds. It was the Gonzagas who had the castle decorated with their coats of arms and colours and held its possession until the end of the Signory period. The nearby Gonzaga Villa is a testimony of their affection for the castle. After entering the castle through the long hallway, you can notice the hints of the pristine drawbridge and ancient Pusterla Portal. On the left of the entrance, a later building was once the keepers’ house, was built by the Townhall Council in 1713 to be the first public tavern in the village. Documents shows that in the first half of the XVIII century the castle was still intact. The castle featured an irregular pentagonal plan, of which only two polygonal towers and a massive corner tower are still existing. The keep, which used to be destined for the Captain of the Guards’ quarters, is a 34 mt high massive and imposing tower. The long western side together with the keep and another two tower is almost intact, whilst only the basements of the other walls are still existing and can be observed. In 1967, on the eastern wall some Christian graffiti-art was brought to light, probably from a pristine S. Andrea del Castello Oratory. The recent restoration has given the castle back to its visitors as grand as ever after almost 1000 years.
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