You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
We were visiting the Veneto region north of Venice earlier this spring, and now we're back to see some more of what we missed farther south.
We're leaving Arquà Petrarca, 17 May 2017, where we've been visiting the retirement home of the great medieval/Renaissance scholar and poet Franceso Petrarch. Sadly, but ironically, at this point we were 82.62 meters from Petrarch's Tomb, which at the time we did not know existed.
Now we're rejoining the SS16 entering the town of Battaglia Terme, following a short-cut that was meant to save us some time. Not everything in life works out as we'd planned.
Passing through downtown Battaglia Terme, near the Ponte dei Scaini over one of the 12th century canals. The town came to importance as a medieval spa, for its warm springs, and because it lies at the meeting point of a number of canals that connect Vicenza, Este, and Monselice, etc., with Padua and the Venice Lagoon, as well as with the Brenta Canal to the north, and the Bacchiglione river.
We're bound for the Castello del Catajo just a kilometre north of Battaglia Terme . . .
. . . an impressive pile, of an earlier origin but owing its impressiveness to huge 16th century aggrandizements.
But today there's no one home. That's photographed through a huge iron gate. We'll have to come back.
The 12th century Canale Bisato through Battaglia Terme, originating from the river Bacchiglione near Vicenza and continuing in nearly a straight line south through Lozzo Atestino (Valbona) and Este, then east through Monselice, turns north again through Battaglia and is here called the Canale Battaglia and rejoins the Bacchiglione at Padua, encircling the Euganean Hills. It's long been used for navigation, but its original purpose, devised by Verona and Vicenza, was to divert the river's water away from their enemy Padua.
Some of the Euganean Hills as we traverse from the eastern to the western side of the Parco Regionale dei Colli Euganei, about 12km but winding all about -- we're headed for the Castello di Valbona.
We're crossing a bridge over the Canale Bisato again, at Lozzo Atestino at the foot of Mount Lozzo. ('Atestino' refers to an association with nearby Este, Ateste to the Romans.)
The neoclassical Church of Saints Leonzio and Carpoforo (who?) on the SP29 around the south of Monte Lozzo to the hamlet of Valbona. The 13th century original was replaced in 1861.
Entering Valbona (a frazione or ward of the Lozza Atestino municipality) at the neogothic Chiesa di San Rocco
That's probably it.
Turning round at the back or western side of the castle, with its own formal gate and a bridge, formerly a drawbridge, over a canal that also runs in a semi-circle around the southern side of Mt Lozzo and joins the Bisato Canal.
And the impressive front of the Castello di Valbona, with its intriguing loggia near the top of it. It's generally considered that this castle is very old but was long a sort of annex or outpost of the more formidable Castello di Lozzo, which was first mentioned in 983 when a certain Inghefredo dei Maltraversi was enfeoffed by the Emperor Otto II with the lordship of Lozzo.
The nearby church from the castle's carpark. The Lozzo castle was destroyed in 1229 by Ezzelino III da Romano, who harried all of the towns, cities, and castles of this part of the world as Imperial Vicar of Frederick II. It was soon repaired but, we're told, when Nicolò da Lozzo betrayed somebody in the wars between Verona and Padua, in 1313 the Veronese della Scala family knocked the Lozzo castle down once again.
The Castle of Valbona certainly existed by 1258 (a year before Ezzelino's unlamented suicide), perhaps earlier, but in a Padua census of castles from 1275 only Lozzo Castle is mentioned, so this place must have been considered ancillary to that.
At this point, we're just worried that the place might be closed, whether for the season, for the day, or just for the lunch hour.
We need not have fretted about that -- the castle is now a restaurant/pizzeria/pub sort of place, with plenty of facilities for weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs, 60-year reunions, etc. Our sandwiches are presently in preparation, and we're off to wander the premises on our own, with the blessings of the friendly staff.
A central courtyard . . .
. . . for terrace dining with scenic views.
With the destruction of the Lozzo Castle in 1313, this stronghold became much more strategically important as a linchpin to Paduan defenses down the west side of the Euganean Hills towards Este, Montagnana, and points south and west. Accordingly, the Carrara lords of Padua strengthened Valbona, apparently in about 1338, along with the defenses of Montagnana and Este, and in a letter of 1402 ranked it amongst their key assets.
The parapets around the two central courtyards. The walls stand 11m high, with six towers -- four hexagonal and two square about 16m high -- and a central tower keep or donjon of 22m.
One of the courtyards below
A small agricultural canal from the west, joining the larger canal below us which in turn joins the Bisato near downtown Lozzo Atestino. There was a moat all the way round the castle back in the day, most of it now filled in.
The Valbona Wall Walk, nice. As the region passed under the authority of the Venetian Republic in the years just after 1400, Valbona lost its significance as a major stronghold, especially with the increase of more sophisticated artillery warfare by the end of that century, but it still served as a fortified observation post and local control station, and was occupied by a mercenary garrison representing the French army during the War of the League of Cambrai in the early 16th century.
The castle keep
Facilities for an informal party -- there are venues for both formal and informal events sprinkled all about the castle.
The loggia on the eastern side
The local church from the loggia
Outside one of the more formal facilities in one of the hexagonal towers
From the sixteen century onward, the Valbona Castle has apparently been owned by a series of patrician Venetian families and is presently evidently the property of the Albrizzis. The castle supports itself by its restaurant facilities and there seems never to be any charge for a good walk-round on your own.
Panini must be ready.
Back to the pub
That was fun.