The castle of Alviano
A lake, an oasis, a castle: some gems of the Tiber Valley
The village of Alviano is made famous by the beautiful lake of the same name, an artificial basin that was formed in 1963 after the construction of a dam on the Tiber River, and that over time has become a wonderful natural oasis. The village is much older and has towered over the surrounding landscape for centuries. It is immediately recognizable by the bell tower of the Church of Saints Pietro and Paolo and the massive Doria Pamphili Castle.
Why it is special
A trapezoidal shaped plan, four mighty towers, an entrance protected by an arched portal and a staircase, and loopholes in its walls... The castle looks ominous, yet the name is more reminiscent of a mansion than a fortress. In fact, entering the beautiful Renaissance courtyard, you realise that the old fortress has become an elegant residence over time. The castle was home to the Alviano's elite and a centre of power. In contemporary times it seemed only natural that this place should become a town museum, where the rooms speak of those who made the decisions, while the exhibits evoke scenes of rural life, helping the visitor understand the history of Alviano.
A bit of history
It seems that the first core of the castle was built in the 10th century. Like many mediaeval castles, during the Renaissance it was modernised and transformed into a stately home. What is surprising, however, is that the renovation was completed in 1470 by a man of arms, the valiant Bartolomeo d'Alviano. Over the centuries, the castle and its fief changed hands several times. The current name of the castle, Doria Pamphili, is that of an eminent Roman family, the last owner of the building before it was purchased by the municipality of Alviano.
Good to know
One of the rooms of the castle that retains its function intact to this day is the chapel. It is called the "swallows' chapel" in reference to one of the interior frescoes, depicting St. Francis asking the swallows for some silence so he can speak to the believers. The chapel is surely worth a visit and gives special emotions to couples who choose to get married here.
Not to be missed
In historic movies you often see teeming streets leading to ancient castles, packed with merchants and artisans. In Alviano this is still a common scenario, repeated every year in November when a big festival is held to celebrate two specialties of the nearby countryside, olive oil and spelt: stalls of local growers and artisans give rise to a lively market, artists display their works, and various performances enliven the streets. It’s the “Olio e Farro” Festival, an amazing occasion to taste local products and enjoy the village’s charm.
Credit to: Panoramio upload bot