Located about 6 kilometers from Conversano, the Marchione Castle in the eighteenth century was used as a hunting lodge and summer residence of the Acquaviva d'Aragona, counts of Conversano. The castle is also used as a location for receptions, meetings and conferences. The catering and service are taken care of, in every detail, directly and exclusively, by the Castle staff.
Castello Marchione History
The origin of the name Marchione is ignored, a name that identifies both the castle and the district.
The building was a hunting lodge of the Acquaviva of Aragona, counts of Conversano, whose uninterrupted affiliation dates back to Rinaldo Acquaviva, lord of Atri, who lived around the year one thousand. The Acquaviva of Aragona usually resided in the castle of Conversano and used Marchione as a hunting lodge, consisting of a forest of oaks and Mediterranean scrub and extended hectares 1,260 hectares; of this forest survives an oak specimen whose age can be estimated in about five centuries.
Following the Norman conquest of Puglia in the 11th century, Conversano acquired considerable importance from a strategic and economic point of view, becoming a county under the rule of the Altavilla family. Subsequently, in the Angevin age, the county passed to the Brienne, the Enghien, the Luxembourg, the Sanseverino and the Barbiano. At the beginning of the XV century, the county became a fief of the Caldora and Orsini Del Balzo families. Later it came to the Acquaviva d'Aragona with the marriage (1456) of Giulio Antonio Acquaviva with Caterina, daughter of Giovanni Antonio Orsini Del Balzo, prince of Taranto, and remained under their rule until 1806, the year of the abolition of feudalism in the Kingdom of Naples. The county of Conversano was one of the seven potentates of southern Italy and included, in addition to Conversano, the territories of Bitetto, Bitonto, Casamassima, Gioia, Cassano, Noci, Turi, Castellana and Casal Castiglione.
Noteworthy were the figures of some accounts of the Acquaviva d´Aragona family, including the aforementioned Giulio Antonio.
His son Andrea Matteo, also a man of arms, but above all a learned humanist, was the protagonist of important political events: he participated in the conspiracy of the barons of 1485 against the Aragonese king; sided against the Spaniards in the conflict between France and Spain between the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries for the possession of the Kingdom of Naples, thus causing the siege of Conversano by the Spaniards themselves. A special mention goes to Giangirolamo II Acquaviva d'Aragona, the most powerful feudal lord of Puglia in the seventeenth century, known as "il Guercio delle Puglie", founder of Alberobello, known for his skill in the use of weapons, his courage and his patronage. At only seventeen, at the head of 300 knights defended by Manfredonia, attacked by the Turks. It sided in defense of the Spanish government in the uprisings of 1647 and 1648, which, started with the revolt of Masaniello in Naples, quickly spread in the cities and the countryside, also assumed an anti-feudal character.
To Giangirolamo II we owe the ten paintings depicting episodes of the liberated Jerusalem by the Neapolitan painter Paolo Finoglio, whom he called to court around 1635.
After the death of Guercio, in the context of the crisis and the general decline of the great southern feudalism, the county of Conversano started towards a slow decline.
In the nineteenth century, in which there was a widespread deterioration of the artistic and environmental heritage, Marchione also experienced its worst moment: the castle, together with the land, leased to farmers who were inattentive to goods and artistic values, was used as an agricultural space and the forest was tilled.
Princess Giulia Acquaviva of Aragon, around 1920-30, took back possession of Marchione and started a patient restoration. This meritorious work of preservation and enhancement was continued with love, competence and commitment by his son, Prince Don Fabio Tomacelli Filomarino (1920-2003), a man of great and profound religiosity, always attentive to the needs and suffering of the people, a true witness of an extraordinary lifestyle, the last descendant of the Acquaviva d'Aragona family.
The castle, which presents perfect symmetry both along the longitudinal axis and along the transversal one, is spread over three floors: the ground floor, the mezzanine floor and the four towers, arranged at the four corners, all from the Middle Ages, the upper floor of baroque-neoclassical period (late seventeenth century); the latter, according to some, would be the work of the Vanvitellian school.
On the upper floor the ceilings, originally made of wood and paintings, were replaced in the nineteenth century with masonry vaults, except for the central hall, on whose wooden (original) ceiling is depicted the quartered coat of arms of the Acquaviva d´Aragona house; this shows the Acquaviva coat of arms (rampant lion) and the coat of arms, in turn quartered, of Aragon (poles, etc.); among others, the Filomarino coat of arms. In the same hall, on the left wall (for those entering), two genealogical trees are painted on canvas: the first is from the Acquaviva d'Aragona house, the second from the Enriquez house (the royal house of Castile, of which a branch became extinct in the house Filomarino); on the opposite wall there is an oil painting depicting Giangirolamo II Acquaviva d’Aragona, called “il Guercio delle Puglie”. On the same walls, lower down, there are "Medallions" (oil paintings on copper) depicting the various Dukes of Atri of the Acquaviva house. In another room there is the painting depicting the Countess Isabella Filomarino, wife of Giangirolamo II, who held the county during the various absences of the spouse, and to whose pious will is due the construction of the church of Carmine in Conversano (1652).