Located only forty minutes from both The Eternal City and the port of Civitavecchia, the lake and the villages on its shores seem ever-so-distant from the hustle and bustle of Rome. The placid setting of rolling, green terrain and the lake’s deep-blue water is the stuff of fairy tales when you sprinkle in an epic castle and a handful of quaint Medieval villages.
In our previous edition, we talked about the charming hamlet of Anguillara Sabazia and its Atlantis-like origins. Today, we’re highlighting the village of Bracciano and its famous castle.
Bracciano Castle: Intrigue and Opulence Since the 15th Century
Even though it came to the forefront of world attention in 2006 when Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes celebrated their wedding there, Bracciano Castle has been hosting the rich, famous, and powerful for hundreds of years. Queens, popes, cardinals, ambassadors, and nobles from all over Europe have come to the castle and tarried in its rooms, negotiating deals and coming to decisions that have had historical implications not only for Rome (in those days, Rome was a city-state; Italy was not unified as a nation until the 19th Century) but for important European states as well.
The Castle, whose proper name is Castello Orsini-Odescalchi, citing the influential Italian families who built and have owned it, is a magnificent medieval fortress situated in the charming town of Bracciano. The castle’s history dates back to the late 15th Century, when construction was begun under the Orsini family. The Orsini, whose origins can perhaps be traced back to Ancient Roman elite, were a powerful and influential noble family during the Medieval and Renaissance periods in Italy.
Bracciano Castle stands as a prime example of Italian Renaissance military architecture. While the vision and wealth of the Orsini family brought it into being, it is said that their greed spelled its demise. The property was auctioned in 1696 and purchased by the illustrious Odescalchi family. The Odescalchi have maintained it almost continuously for centuries, opening it to the public in 1952.
Bracciano Castle features a blend of architectural styles, characterized by its imposing stone walls, regal watchtowers, and a beautifully preserved drawbridge. The interior is equally captivating, showcasing opulent rooms adorned with frescoes, tapestries, coffered ceilings, antique furnishings, and terra cotta floors. Besides a panoramic terrace with breathtaking views of Lake Bracciano, the castle also has a secret garden (as all castles should), making it an ideal location for events and weddings.
Throughout its history, Bracciano Castle has been a place of opulence and intrigue. Today, it remains one of the best-preserved castles in Italy, offering visitors a unique opportunity to step back in time and immerse themselves in the rich history and enchanting beauty of this architectural gem.
For an excellent description of the rooms and spaces at Bracciano Castle:
For Bracciano Castle’s official website:
Whether you are staying in Rome or coming to the port of Civitavecchia by cruise ship, DriverInRome would be pleased to show you Italy’s amazing countryside and its quaint villages. Please contact us for standard as well as custom itineraries.