Castello Ruspoli, a romantic residence with a thousand years of history
The Ruspoli Castle in Vignanello is a splendid manor house that stands in the centre of the village of Vignanello, a small municipality in northern Lazio, the province of Viterbo. Its historic garden is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. An hour and a half from Rome, Castello Ruspoli is the ideal destination for a romantic stroll or a cultural excursion to discover a place with a fascinating thousand-year history.
From Benedictine monastery to noble residence
As soon as you cross the threshold, you feel the magic of a place that has hosted some of the most powerful families of modern Italy, related to popes, commanders, ambassadors, men of arms and culture. The first part of the castle dates back to 847, when it was little more than a defensive fortress protecting the village.
In the centuries that followed, the fortress was expanded into a Benedictine monks' convent, who inhabited it for several centuries until, in 1531, the building was granted as a feudal papal fortress by Pope Clement VII to Beatrice Farnese Baglioni, but only with the commitment of her daughter Ortensia Marescotti was it transformed into the splendid noble residence we can admire today. In 1704, the castle was acquired by the Ruspoli family, who still own it today and use it as their summer residence.
A perfect Renaissance garden
The design of the magnificent Renaissance garden is attributed to Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola, one of the greatest architectural theorists of the 16th century, and was built in 1611 at the behest of Ottavia Orsini, daughter of Pier Francesco, known as Vicino, who years earlier had had the Monster Park of Bomarzo built not far from Vignanello.
The part in front of the castle is divided into 12 parts bordered by four avenues along which one can stroll among the laurel, box, myrtle and viburnum hedges. In the centre of the composition is a large fountain with water features. Other small Italian gardens wind their way through the terraces sloping down towards the forest in the valley. The garden still retains the rigour of the initial design, which is renewed every year in fine weather.
The view on the main floor
As well as the garden, part of the interior of the Ruspoli castle can be visited: on the ground floor there is access to the chapel dedicated to a Marescotti family saint and the armoury. On the first floor, visit some rooms that preserve original 17th and 18th century furnishings, frescoes and family portraits.
Part of the second floor is reserved for hospitality, for those who want to indulge in the pleasure of staying in a charming castle: a flat with four rooms worthy of a pope, with its own entrance, is available. From time to time, the castle also organises stays for groups who want to take advantage of its surroundings for various activities.
Viterbese, a concentration of historic gardens
Much of the area around Viterbo is the ideal place for those who love historic residences: this is an area that can boast the highest concentration of historic gardens in the world. During the Renaissance, the most noble families competed to build the most elegant and spectacular garden. The route can proceed on to Caprarola (Palazzo Farnese), Ronciglione (the Torrioni) and the park of Bomarzo.
To find out more
The Ruspoli Castle opens for visits on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, but only by appointment.