Villalta Castle, the charm of history
Villalta is the most important medieval castle of Friuli, overlooking the valleys of this region, and on a clear day one can see almost to the sea. Its history is lost in the mists of time, as Roman foundations and traces of a fortified village testify to its ancient past. The castle dates back to the year 1000. The castle has been besieged in battles several times. Often it suffered partial destruction, but it was always rebuilt again between 1200 and 1400. To its monumental structure was added in 1500 a middle part, called il Palazzo. For centuries it had been the property of the Lords of Villalta-Caporiacco. In the sixteenth century the Counts della Torre, a powerful family from Lombardy (four of whom became Patriarchs of Aquileia) became owners of the castle through marriage and acquisition. Their battles with the Counts of Gorizia were long and fierce. The adventures of one of their family member, Count Lucio della Torre, a man of incredible wickedness and violence caused the Castle of Villalta to be taken by the Venetian Republic, called La Serenissima. The invasion by Napoleon’s troops in 1797 marks the most important although painful of recent events. The double perimeter walls, the patrol paths, the sentinel walks, the drawbridge, the defense towers and the picturesque and romantic internal courts well reflect an age of greatness and strategic importance. The importance of this Castle is also confirmed in the region’s capital, Udine, where one of the city gates is called “porta Villalta”. The Lords of Villalta, a branch of the ancient Caporiacco progeny, boasting its Roman (Cavorius) and Celtic origin, as well as the blood related branch of the Castello (nowadays Frangipane), are among the most important historic families of Friuli. They belonged to the rank of the free feudal families, directly invested by the emperors for centuries. They were, therefore, antagonized by the powerful Patriarchs of Aquileia. The family numbers many important people such as the famous leader Artico di Villalta, Adalgerio bishop of Feltre and the poet Federico di Villalta, who had fallen unhappily in love with the beautiful Lucrezia Mantica.