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The massive door of the castle squeaked on its ancient iron hinges as it swung open to reveal the precious treasures that lay within its thick protective walls. This is the marvel we came across when we first visited the castle, its age-old towers majestic against the September sunset, so close to the modern world and the road that leads to it from Deruta, yet so reserved and seemingly hidden deep in the heart of the Umbrian Apennines, surrounded by a rolling landscape of olive groves, fields and the oak and chestnut stands which characterise this marvellous part of Italy: the Umbria.

 
Facciata 

A lovely country road leads up to the Castle, which appears suddenly as one rounds the corner. It is an arcane image which, at the same time, is a reassuring one as it reveals that we are about to reach our destination and embark on a whole new adventure. This is how we came upon the idea to recreate the ancient spirit of the medieval world within the Castle walls, to conjure up a magical ambience within the spaces provided, to exalt and to elicit the unique atmosphere that is the Castello di Castelleone.The visitor is soon under the spell of the magnificent aura of the castle as he wonders down its ancient hallways, pauses in the sitting rooms, goes up and down the stairs from tower to bedroom. The urge is to remain, to never leave these spaces so rife with ancient memories and amazing tales.  Or, at least, to return as soon as possible!The bedrooms, suites and sitting rooms of the Castle, now open as an exclusive relais, all vary in style, the eloquent modern en-suite bathrooms miraculously carved into the uncommonly thick walls, the decorated ceilings exalted by magnificent antique Venetian chandeliers of inestimable value, the antique paintings and fine ceramics from the millenary Deruta tradition all come together to urge the visitor to return to the Castle over and over, to sleep in different rooms whose stories unveil themselves each time in a different and unforgettable light.The Castle’s museum has a priceless collection of Italian and European art dating from the 13th to the 20th century. The visitor can also hear the joyous ticking of over a hundred clocks a sort of “museum within the museum”. The sense of the medieval world is transmitted by the antique armour and invites the sensitive observer to stop and taste the culture of timeless hospitality exuded by these spaces.

Notturno

This ancient hospitality does not, however, imply an absence of modern technological comfort for our guests.  What a marvellous feeling to immerse oneself in the hydro-massage bathtub whilst gazing at the ancient frescoes on the ceiling above or noticing the density of the walls through the window that lights the bathroom as the sauna heats.  The state of the art modern shower cabins all have sauna, steam room and aroma/chromo therapy functions to help ease away the tensions of the weary traveller. The Castello di Castelleone is a showcase of contrasts: the great forbidding outer walls are tempered by the noble décor of its rooms and the romantic splendour of the Nuptial Tower, whilst the Longobardian Tower and the stone walls still exude a spartan world which came about in the dark era of the Middle Ages.  And along those very ancient walls the glorious swimming pool appears, an emerald imbedded at the feet of the Castle. The Castle is a challenge which continually occupies our time as we seek to create the same ensemble of sensations and strong emotions for our guests as we felt the first time we saw it, and which we still feel every time we seek ancient dreams that are still vivid today.

Salone dei Cavalieri

Few works of man have the power to elicit the mythical and magical states of mind the Castle has been able to over the centuries. The Castle, in its most profound role, represents the ideal place of safety and refuge from a harsh wilderness which in ancient times was full of raw danger, a world of blunt violence and political turmoil. History has made the Castle a place of mystery and arcane magic, obscure events and powerful legends. The Castello di Castelleone with its towers, spy slits and majestic hilltop domination is a timeless guardian of the Upper Tiber Valley which to this day bears witness to a world of warriors whose cries even now echo from the depth of the dark Middle Ages.  Inside its thick walls the ideal refuge awaits, a different sort of space, filled with priceless objects and rooms of noble grace which belie the massive external stone armour. With its severe and forbidding architecture even the Castle evokes contrasting and seductive emotions in those who cross its threshold.  An inner space separated from the outside by walls so thick and impenetrable could not but contain the most precious objects of our desires, the promise of a perhaps hard-to-come-by pleasure which goes beyond our experience of errant nights and pilgrims lost in the woods.  Once over the threshold the weary traveller is overtaken by another sort of reality: those walls, the stairs and the corridors impose a set of rules whose mysterious existence we sometimes forget.   Though built of stone, the Castle turns out to be a living being with a hidden will whose arcane magic is hard to ignore.  The spell of the Castle’s soul is closely tied to the female presence which, from time to time, has occupied its space. Over the centuries, the women of the Castle have been its embodiment, enchanting sirens when they were not victims to be freed. Our castle harbours both the object of desire, and the obstacle to that same desire:  the spiral staircases of its towers, the forbidding vaulted ceilings of the underground passages which long ago served as the entrance to a reign of darkness and coved the warm fragility of its vital essence.  It is in these places that we finally grasp the importance the Castle represented to these Umbrian villages so long ago.  It was a potent symbol of feudal authority, a point of reference for those who arrived at its walls: protective for those who entered into its solid safety and deep jealousy-inspired hatred for those left out in the cold as the centuries long battle between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines raged. The Castello di Castelleone, with its succession of eras evidenced by stone walls, un-fired bricks and age-old plaster bears witness to the history of architecture of the last millennium.  Seen from the outside the Castle stimulates desire and excites the imagination, evokes poetry: an emblem of a fantastic world and a timeless gate which beckons us, the new errant knights of the 21st century. 

Salone Armigeri
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 September 2010 22:20