About this Tour
The majestic Odescalchi Castle, one of the most beautiful and imposing Renaissance mansions in Europe,lies a few kilometres north of Rome. Opened to the public by the Livio IV Odescalchi Foundation, the Castle is an ideal venue for weddings, events,meetings, conferences, school trips, workshops, guided tours and cultural events
Six centuries of history told through the ancient weapons, furnishings, paintings, manuscripts, decorations and frescos open to the public since 1952 by the will of prince Livio Odescalchi IV, and thanks to the current management of the princess Maria Pae, which sustains a wise and steady work of preservation and restoration, in the Castle of Bracciano, a few kilometers from Rome, each year, welcomes more than 60,000 visitors, tourists and scholars.
Visit: Castello Odescalchi di Bracciano
The castle's earliest history is inferred to be linked to one of the numerous towers built in the tenth century as a defence against the Saracen attacks, as implied by the ancient name of Castrum Brachiani. In the eleventh century the neighbouring territory was acquired by the Prefetti di Vico family, who turned the tower into a castle. Ferdinand Gregorovius dated the possession of Bracciano by the Orsini to 1234. From 1375 it was a Papal possession.
In 1419 the Colonna Pope Martin V confirmed the fiefdom of Bracciano in the Orsini family branch of Tagliacozzo. Under this powerful family Bracciano developed into a flourishing town, famous in the whole of Italy for its castle, which was enlarged, starting from 1470, by Napoleone Orsini and his son Virginio. In 1481 it was host to Pope Sixtus IV, who had fled from the plague in Rome; the Sala Papalina in one of the corner towers commemorates the event. Four years later, however, the city and the castle were ravaged by Papal troops under Prospero Colonna, and subsequently a new line of walls was built.
The construction of the Orsini-Odescalchi Castle was started by Napoleon Orsini of the Orsini family in 1470. It was completed by his son Virginio Gentil, in 1485. Francesco di Giorgio Martini was the architect. Over the centuries of its existence the castle has been the venue of many a conflict between Colonna and Borgia noble families. In 1494 Charles VIII of France and his troops marching against Rome stopped at Bracciano. This act led to the excommunication of the Orsini. In 1496, the castle which was under the Orsini family who were politically well connected and prosperous, attracted the ire of Pope Alexander VI whose son Giovanni di Candia led a papal army and tried to capture it. However, the Orsinis successfully resisted the attack. Cesare Borgia, another of Alexander's natural sons, was unsuccessful in his attempt to take the Orsini stronghold a few years later. During this time the castle underwent modifications with many interior decorations created in the form of paintings and frescoes by Antoniazzo Romano, a Roman painter and sculptor of the 15th century. Pope Sixtus IV, born Francesco della Rovere, had shifted from Rome to this castle during the plague epidemic. At this time, the rooms where the Pope stayed were decorated with frescoes by the Taddeo Zuccari and Federico Zuccari brothers.