Castelbrando: a step back into history in Veneto Hills
Castelbrando, a real castle in Veneto
A timeless beauty, between nature, history and culture, CastelBrando, located in the heart of the Prosecco hills, between Venice and the Dolomites, a fascinating blend of eras and styles, is one of the largest and oldest castles in Europe.
A castle on a mountain that does not go unnoticed.
The result of a millenary history, the mirror of its territory: Claudius, Charlemagne, Otto I, Casanova, Queen Margherita and, from 1400 onwards, the powerful Brando-Brandolini family; each one of them came through Castelbrando.
Inhabited since prehistoric times, the first Castrum was built starting from the Roman age, as a control and defence structure of the Via Imperiale Claudia Augusta, which connected the Adriatic to northern Europe. Thanks to a very important restoration, Castelbrando now has returned to revive its long history and to be a tourist and cultural reference point: today it offers the opportunity to stay in elegant rooms and taste dishes faithful to the Veneto tradition in eighteenth-century style halls.
Where the ancient Roman baths once stood there is now an intimate wellness centre. With its Venetian halls and sixteenth century theatres, the castle is a unique location for an unforgettable experience.
A visit to Castelbrando
I decided to visit Castelbrando on a hot June day with my dear American friend Caron from Soirèe Travel , who, for obvious reason, had not been able to come to Italy for nearly 2 years. We wanted to do something different from Venice and get away from any possible crowds and gatherings.
So early in the morning, we headed up to the Prosecco Hills with destination Cison di Val Marino.
After about an hour, we reached the stunning location of Castelbrando and parked in the hotel car park (we had an appointment for a site inspection, Caron is a tour operator).
If you are not a hotel guest, the car park where you can leave your cars is located at the foot of the Castle, from which a spectacular funicular departs taking you directly to the entrance in a few seconds.
Our tour of the castle started from the outside, where we admired the great defensive bulwarks, the towers, the battlements and the immense trees. The castle immediately took us back in time and made us feel at peace, immersed in tranquillity and silence, thanks to the splendid panorama that can be admired from up here.
The interior is majestic, imposing, elegant, like a fairy tale castle: the reception is a grandiose and very bright room, with a dominating tapestry. A white marble staircase and red carpet leads to the Sansovino Restaurant, where wedding receptions and special occasions are organized.
Feeling like princesses at Castelbrando
Walking on the red carpet of the staircase we really felt like princesses in our own enchanted castle and this feeling only increased once we stepped into the restaurant hall, decorated with stucco on the walls, tables set to perfection, windows from which the bright sun entered.
We then walked outside in a well-kept courtyard in total peace, a strong characteristic of this place, that seems isolated from the rest of the world.
By the garden, the Church of San Martino, from which you can enjoy another view of the area below. This very cute little church is deconsecrated, but it is possible to get married inside with a civil ceremony, something that is very popular especially with foreign visitors.
This is a 4 star hotel featuring very atmospheric rooms, suites and apartments; a spa, located in the oldest wing of the castle (with swimming pool, whirlpool, Turkish bath, Finnish sauna, Kneipp path, fitness room and relaxation area); the “La Fucina” pizza restaurant and the “Sansovino” restaurant, housed in the wing of the castle dating back to 1700; and various theatres, where conferences, conventions and meetings are held, both inside and outside the Castle.
The origins of Castelbrando
The origin of the castle dates back to Roman times: it was built to control and defend the Via Imperiale Claudia Augusta, which allowed the connection between the Adriatic and Northern Europe. It became the home of the Da Camino lords, then it passed under the command of the Serenissima Republic of Venice, who gave it as a fiefdom first to Marin Faliero and then to the captains of fortune Giovanni Brandolino and Erasmo da Narni, known as the Gattamelata.
It was the Brandolino family who marked the history of the castle because, with them, the manor was enlarged in the central part, giving the castle a Venetian style. The most recent part of the castle dates back to 1700 and is a horseshoe-shaped, linear and imposing structure inspired by classicism.
It remained the property of the Brandolini Counts until the mid-twentieth century: in 1959 it was sold to the Salesian fathers, who used it as a centre for spiritual studies. In 1997 CastelBrando was purchased by Quaternario Investimenti SpA that completely restored it, creating the jewel that we can now visit.
Weapons, costumes, musical instruments & carriages
Inside the castle you can also find the Castelbrando Museum, a real guardian of history that allows visitors to take a journey back in time and it is open to the public.
The museum is open all year round and is divided into 6 sections where you can see iconographic and thematic exhibitions.
Open to the public and accessible to anyone for free
Located in the eighteenth-century cryptoporticos, you can admire on display carriages built in the 1700s and 1800s intended to lead the visitor back into the atmosphere of the court and which include a curious reconstruction of a Roman chariot.
They tell the evolution and history of this very important means of transport until the arrival of the car.
One section is open with free admission during the opening hours of La Fucina pizzeria.
The Via Romana Claudia Augusta
Historical-iconographic path to deepen the history of the ancient Via Claudia Augusta which connected the Adriatic Sea to the Danube and which was completed around 47 AD by the emperor Claudius Augustus, from whom it took its name.
The other sections can only be visited with the Museum guided tours, with a fee.
CastelBrando Weapons and Music
An exhibition of weapons and armours from the Roman period up to the 1700s and “Discovering lost sounds” with the history and evolution of musical instruments, from ancient times to the Baroque era. You can see complete tools and semi-finished tools, supported by an iconographic and descriptive apparatus.
Power and Justice
A tour of the prisons of the castle allows visitors to see the reconstruction of a trial of the 1600s in the different environments
The costumes of power
In the sacristy of the Church of San Martino, through multimedia installations it is possible to get to know some characters who have influenced the history of the territory and of the castle: the emperor Claudius Augustus, who built the Roman road Claudia Augusta, the doge Marin Falier, the Da Camino family. Through their clothing and the story of their life these characters reconstruct part of the history of Veneto.
Castelbrando Tours click here
The Castle and its historic gardens are open all year round (following Covid-19 regulations of course) and offer visitors many opportunities. The guided tours reveal an immense historical heritage, preserved in the museum areas and in the historical rooms ranging from the Middle Ages to the Baroque. Nature lovers have at their disposal a large park and 50 hectares of woods that surround Castelbrando, an ideal place for splendid walks.
Get married in a castle in Italy
This is an excellent location for weddings, with its gardens, its green spaces, its restaurants, its decorated and bright rooms, and its princess rooms and suites; it is a perfect place to fulfill dreams. People from all over the world come to Castelbrando to get married.
Even a famous Bollywood actress chose CastelBrando to celebrate her wedding. And the castle has also a heliport!
So, if by any chance you are planning your wedding, think about it!
I highly recommend CastelBrando if you are looking to spend a Sunday in the Veneto among history, discovering small museum jewels, good food and good, clean air!