The Castle of Bornato in Franciacorta
A very rare example of a Renaissance villa built inside a medieval castle. This is the Castello di Bornato and the Villa Orlando which, in a panoramic position, dominates the gentle hills of Franciacorta, renowned all over the world for the excellence of the wine production. Owned by the Orlando family since 1930 is still inhabited today by the family that shares with the guests the magic of these walls.
Formerly it was a Roman stronghold erected to guard the consular road that united Bergamo to Brescia, today still present as the central core of the castle. It was then enlarged with a circle of 300 meters of crenellated walls, with towers and buttresses, ditches and drawbridge, still visible today. The villa was built inside the walls in the 1564 by the Gandini family heir of the Bornati, with frescoed rooms, a staircase and rooms with coffered ceilings, all beautifully preserved.
The park that surrounds the villa inside the walls offers an Italian garden to the south and a landscaped garden to the north with numerous centuries-old plants: cedars of Lebanon, cedar deodaras, ginkobiloba and a very rare Xylum Sophora years old, unique surviving specimen of the first imported into Europe at the end of the 200. In the north-east forest you can also visit a romantic cave built in the 1700 inside medieval dungeons.
Under the main tower of the castle there are the ancient cellars where for years the wine of the Bornato Castle has been produced for 700, continuing until the early 2000 years. The old oak barrels that housed the red, the glass-lined barrels that received the white and a small display of antique equipment are still visible. Today the production of wine, one of the most prestigious labels of Franciacorta, has been decentralized to accommodate modern machinery and follow the most advanced techniques in terms of organic winemaking. Produced in small quantities of excellent quality and bottled only in the best vintages, the wine can now be bought at the house itself.
The central core of the castle consists of a massive Roman stronghold erected to guard the consular road that connected Bergamo to Brescia. Inverardo da Bornato, expanding and strengthening the stronghold with a circle of 300 meters of crenellated walls, with towers and buttresses, ditches and drawbridge, has given it the appearance it still preserves. Giambellino, grandson of Inverardo and great patron of the arts and letters, made the dwelling a meeting point for artists and poets from all over Italy, among whom Dante Alighieri deserves mention. The growing importance of Bornato led, in the space of a few years, to the construction of a second wall to protect the entire Borgo, of which the Castle represented the citadel: of this second enclosure, preserved only in a few short sections, it is today recognizable the circular path. The invasion of Franciacorta by Azzone Visconti in the 1326 marked the beginning of the decline of Bornato, which will often be at the center of bloody episodes of battle. In the 1509 the Franciacorta passed under the even brief domination of the king of the French Louis XII. The splendor of Bornato returned to the 1564, when the Bornati family became extinct in the Gandini family, who built inside the castle the renaissance villa known today as Villa Orlando from the last owner family that still lives there.
Services: a jewel of Franciacorta
The Castello di Bornato is open to the public for guided tours on all holidays from mid-March to mid-November. For groups of minimum 20 people is available, upon reservation, also during weekdays. The visit is guided by local guides illustrating the Italian garden with the centenary trees, the frescoed rooms of the Renaissance villa, the church and the ancient cellar.
At the end of the visit there will be a tasting of the Franciacorta wines from the production of the farm from the castle, which can be purchased on site. The wines tasted are Curtefranca Rosso and Curtefranca Bianco and on request Franciacorta Brut. The visit with the tasting takes about an hour.
The inn of the Castle located in a farmhouse of 1200 close to the walls of the castle and overlooking the vineyards has been renovated keeping unchanged the original structure, materials and details of the era. It houses 5 apartments with stone and brick walkways, terracotta floors and exposed beams that can host from 2 to 6 people for a relaxing stay, good wine and good food.
In the former stables adjacent to the castle walls is the Palafreno Restaurant, which offers traditional local dishes with a modern twist.