The Castle of Magione was built in the twelfth century with the function of a hospital for pilgrims traveling to Rome or Jerusalem. The production of wine, which began here in the Middle Ages, is a historical reality of excellence in the area along with cereals and oil. The vineyards are located on the hills adjacent to Lake Trasimeno at an altitude ranging from 250 to 350 m s.l.m. where the sun and the perfect exposure guarantee the best climate to obtain excellent structured red wines and important and fruity white wines. In addition to the vine, on the same hills, find the right microclimate the olive tree with which it produces native cultivar oil in compliance with the Umbrian tradition. Total ownership reaches 530 total hectares, 32 of which are vineyards.
Castello di Magione o dei Cavalieri di Malta History
The castle of the Knights of Malta, or Badia, is a fortified complex mentioned since the last years of the twelfth century as a hospitium, used by travelers who, along the Via Francigena, wished to reach Rome or Jerusalem. The oldest documents mentioning the hospital structure managed by the Jerusalem knights date back to November 1171.
The building is located in the village of Magione in Via Cavalieri di Malta, 31, in the province of Perugia, very close to Lake Trasimeno, and was the summer residence (usually in September) of the Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta, especially from the sixties with Fra Angelo de Mojana of Cologna and fra 'Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie.
When it was erected it was characterized only by two buildings placed in "L", surmounted by a bell tower. Later it was enlarged until it reached a square plan, with a vast central courtyard, protected by a wall with strong towers at the corners.
In the fifteenth century, the complex was transformed into a castle, still a hospitable type, with the addition of the round tower, the pediments, a set of battlements crowning the fortified part and a loggiata courtyard. The sumptuous rooms on the first floor showed that the old hospitium had by now assumed the distinctive elements of a noble dwelling, while retaining protective features and the availability of hosting pilgrims.
Together with the apartments of the religious, the service and accommodation premises, due to the radical fifteenth-century modifications attributed to the Bolognese architect Fioravante Fioravanti who had worked at the Cathedral of San Lorenzo and the Porta di Sant'Angelo in Perugia, the ancient abbey naturally included within its walls a chapel, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, patron saint of the knights of Malta, with interesting frescoes of the school of Pinturicchio (a Nativity and the Madonna with Child and Saint). It was the cardinal Giovanni Battista Orsini, owner of the commendation on the abbey, to want, in 1502, the realization of the paintings.
The castle knew a wide notoriety for a grim story, described by Niccolò Machiavelli in Il Principe, which occurred in his rooms: the Conspiracy of the Magione. It was a conspiracy plotted, in 1502, against Cesare Borgia, by his own cobelligerants. The "Valentino" wanted to set in Bologna the capital of the duchy of Romagna, just established, and this worried a lot Oliverotto from Fermo, Vitellozzo Vitelli, Giampaolo Baglioni, Paolo Orsini and Antonio Giordano who, with others, found themselves in the manor apartment of Cardinal Orsini, to conjecture a defense strategy, through an alliance with the Da Montefeltro, the Medici and the Republic of Venice against the Borgia to defend the Bentivoglio. The fact ended tragically for almost all the conspirators, in favor of Caesar.
"La Badia" was always a significant stop for popes, sovereign and authoritative characters who passed along the Via Francigena and the hospitality of the knights was always comfortable and punctual.
The part of the castle, now dedicated to the Congress Center, was built during the XIV century enlargements to house the hall of arms of the hospital knights in modern times became the castle granary.
Originally it was accessed from the ground floor, this floor was made later as we can deduce from the north-east wall where below appear the end parts of Gothic arches that are interrupted by the floor floor but continuing on the lower floor.
At the end of the hall we can admire the models of two boats belonging to the Knights of Malta, as we can see from the flags hoisted with the Coat of Arms: the white Latin cross on a rectangular red background.
The galleys represent the glorious past of the Knights of Malta who, following the abandonment of the Holy Land in 1291, discovered the seafaring vocation constantly sailing the waters of the Mediterranean and fighting several times against the fleets of the Muslim pirates.
On the long right wall there is a niche where there are a series of ancient swords of the knights, while at the back of the room there is a collection of objects linked to the Order among which the model of the Holy Sepulcher made of mother-of-pearl stands out.
Sala degli Stemmi
Going up the internal staircase and going through the loggia you reach the "Hall of the coats of arms".
This is the hall of representation of the castle and is dominated by the coat of arms of the Order of Malta complete with all its attributes: a cross with eight points surrounded by a rosary, which is superimposed on the red round with a white Latin cross.
The two Crosses are placed below a princely mantle supported by a crown.
This is the official coat of arms of the Grand Magisterium of the Institutions of the Sovereign Order, which today include 6 Grand Priories, 6 Sub-Orders, 47 National Associations and over 100 Diplomatic Missions.
The coat of arms of the Order is displayed together with the red canopy that is reserved only for the "sovereign emblems", that is to the coats of arms of the "Sovereign States" like that of the Order of the Knights of Malta.
The crests hanging on the walls are related to the various Priories and the Grand Masters that have succeeded over time, such as the one in the wall between the two windows representing the penultimate Grand Master Frà Andreas Bertie, in office until 2008.
Currently the Castle, perfectly restored, is at the center of a vast agricultural and wine estate. Upon reservation, it is possible to visit some rooms of the Castle and the chapel. The cloister and the wine shop are open to the public.