In the heart of Franciacorta, among the gentle slopes of hills covered with vineyards, stands the Castle of Bornato and Villa Orlando, a rare example of a Renaissance villa built inside a medieval castle. The panoramic position of the house allows the view to wander over the Po Valley and to catch a glimpse of the Apennines on the clearest days.
Castello di Bornato History
The central nucleus of the Castle of Bornato consists of a mighty Roman stronghold erected to guard the consular road that linked Bergamo to Brescia. In 1270, Inverardo da Bornato, lord and condottiere, expanded and strengthened the stronghold with a circle of 300 meters of crenellated walls, with towers and buttresses, moats and drawbridge, giving it the appearance that it still preserves. His nephew Giambellino, great patron of the arts and letters, made the castle a meeting point for artists and poets from all over Italy, forming around himself a cultured and enlightened court, among which Dante Alighieri deserves mention. In 1564, the Gandini family heir of the Bornati family, built inside the castle the Renaissance villa now called Villa Orlando by the family that owns it since 1930. The feudal area was however crossed by a period of decline starting from 1326, when Azzone Visconti invaded area of Franciacorta. The whole village fell into the heavy Visconti attacks, until in 1562 the castle changed hands and became the property of the Gandinis who enlarged the structure with a wing on the east side with frescoed rooms.
In the ancient cellars located under the main tower of the castle, for 700 years the wine of the Bornato Castle was produced, up to the early 2000s. Today the production of wine, one of the most prestigious labels of Franciacorta, has been decentralized to welcome the modern machinery and follow the most advanced techniques in terms of organic winemaking, but even today the wine can be bought at the house itself.
Outside there is a centuries-old park, with an Italian garden gun on the south side and an English facing north. Cedars of Lebanon, cedar deodaras, ginkgo biloba and a rare 200-year-old sophora japonica, the only surviving specimen of the first imported in Europe in the late 1700s.
The castle is open to the public for guided tours, as well as the cellar where you can admire the old oak barrels and a small museum area with antique tools.