The castle of Soave is a typical military artifact of the Medieval age representing one of the best example of castle architecture in Veneto.
This fortalice majestically rises with a high central tower (“keep”), around which rounds of walls gradually develop separating three courtyards and a small hanging court.
The castle walls finally slope downwards embracing the whole medieval village.
The main entrance is north-facing and equipped with a drawbridge. This entrance is protected by a stately tower which is known as San Giorgio’s Tower since a statue of the same saint can be found in a niche over the door. Beyond the drawbridge one can observe the first courtyard and its boundary wall, which was erected by the Republic of Venice at the beginnings of 15th century.
At the same time it is possible to notice the ruins of a three-apses tiny church dated back to the 10th century, at the age of Hungarians incursions.
A portcullis takes to the second courtyard, known as the Madonna’s courtyard for the presence of a fresco, dating back to 1321, and representing the Virgin Mary in the act of protecting under her mantle some devotees, kneeling down at her feet.
A metal ladder, which crosses a defensive drop, takes to the third courtyard. The door is provided both with leaves and shutter and it is protected by short and crenellated curtains. On the door archivolt, names of men in charge of the castle defense as soldiers and leaders, are still legible written in gothic fonts.
In the third courtyard, the daring donjon rises up. It is placed on a pyramidal granitic base and it represented the last and the most strenuous defensive rampart; it was probably a place of imprisonment and torture. It is possible to enter the keep through an opening made in 1770 which takes to a very high-ceilinged and squared room, with neither doors nor windows (the ones visible now were made later). A trapdoor on the top creates the impression of a place of cruel agony: indeed the tradition states that 2 meters of human bones were piled up on the bottom of the keep when the opening was made.
Next to the entrance portal of the third courtyard there is a fresco that has been probably made by the painter Cicogna in 1322.
On the boundary walls some traces of a two storied dwelling are still visible; this building was used both as an ensemble of lodging rooms of the castle and as a workshop for weapons manufacturing as highlighted by the numerous and tiny stoves on the ground-floor boundary wall.
Here there had to be a kitchen as well, as deducible from the chimneypot sign of a fireplace used for bread cooking. On the right side, towards the middle of the courtyard, a nice well can be noticed: its stoned well-curb shows evident grooves due to the friction of ropes during the water supply procedure.
Leaning on the southern walls a medieval dwelling rises up (the so called “Casa del Capitano”). It used to play host to garrison and it is characterized by a wonderful outdoor staircase. At ground-floor level there is the hall known as “del Corpo di Guardia” with two naves and cross vaulted ceiling supported by arches standing on stoned pillars.
Some wrought iron lamps and rings probably used to chain prisoners hang down from the ceiling.
On the sidewalls, weapons of offense and defense belonging to Scaligeri’s soldiers, whole armors, a mace and two coarse couches for soldiers can be found.
Getting out by climbing the external ladder will take to the so called “Caminata” hall whose name is due to the presence of the big fireplace. The hall is decorated with fourteenth-century fine taste and escutcheons of nobles families.
The ceiling is coffered and made in wood.
In a corner the family tree and gothic keys hanging on the wall.
From the Caminata room it is possible to get to the belvedere, the tiny hanging court enclosed by a semicircled crenellated curtain equipped with machicolations and embrasures for weapons.
On the fireplace’s left there is the entrance to the captain’s bedroom. The richly carved furniture and the wrought weapons perfectly suit the lord of the Castle.
On the right side of the canopied bed, above a walnut kneeler of the fifteenth century, a precious thirteenth-century fresco representing the Crucifix between the Madonna and Saint John the Baptist. Close to the window, a richly adorned wrought iron tripod, holds an embossed copper basin.
Let’s now enter in the dining room with a beautiful sideboard; from the ceiling a valuable wrought iron candelabra hangs down; there are two portraits hanging on the wall: Lucia Della Scala and count Serego.
Leaving the dining room we arrive in the adjacent small study adorned with five paintings portraying from the left: Cangrande Della Scala, Mastino I°, Dante Alighieri (who was Cangrande’s guest in Verona and Soave), Taddea da Carrara wife of Mastino II° and Cansignorio.
From here, going up a small stone ladder and continuing on the communication trenches you can reach the keep with the famous trapdoor and one of the most beautiful panoramas of Mounts Lessini and the Po valley.
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