The medieval architecture of Lovere is undoubtedly the most evocative, characterising the town centre with massive walls. Between the 12th and 13th Centuries Lovere was fortified with a curtain wall surrounding the entire village, a castle and tower-houses built around the main square. Imposing defensive structures were situated in districts within the city walls, the majority of which preserved in the district of Castel Vecchio, extending from the Alghisi Tower (in Via Matteotti) to today’s Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II that, in 1400, was the chief magistrate and municipality’s administrative headquarters.
This district took its name from the Castle, dating back to the beginning of the 13th Century, consisting of three towers linked by perimeter walls, belonging to the Celeri, a noble family descending from the Ghibelline Federici dynasty of the Valle Camonica (Camonica Valley). One of the towers of the castle became the Civic Tower (Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II) decorated with a fresco (dated 1442) depicting the Lion of St. Mark, symbol of the Venetian conquest, and restored in the 16th Century. A Renaissance building was constructed next to it reusing the old medieval stone corners. This tower was turned into the municipality’s belfry following a violent thunderstorm in 1900.
Continuing on to Via delle Rose (district of Castel Vecchio) there are some fortified structures: a limestone tower-house, now built into modern houses, and an adjacent building of which a small portion of the exposed wall has been retained. Two medieval gateways, remnants of the old houses in the town centre, still stand in the alleyway.
The Alghisi Tower, built between the 12th and 13th Centuries brings the district to a close to the west, along the town’s main road (Via Matteotti). This quadrangular structure is built of large smooth ashlar limestone blocks, defining a uniform facade up to the second floor. The stone corners are well finished and larger than the face. On the first floor a vault room with a trapdoor allows access to the upper floors. The original entrance was on the eastern façade and is now covered by an adjoining building. The western façade has a vaulted entrance, once protected by a wooden protruding structure resting on a stone cornice. The tower, initially with a gable roof hidden from view by a crenellated wall, was subsequently raised adding a third floor, with a more roughly finished dark grey limestone block wall. The brick arch-lintel pointed arch openings date back to the 14th Century when the Celeri family abandoned the district of Castel Vecchio to move to the new stronghold in the upper part of the town.
Interesting traces of gateways in the Barboglio courtyard are still visible in the district of Segradino (in Via Matteotti), whilst the Socha or Zucca Tower stands in the district of Zucca, at the opposite end of the district of Castel Vecchio (Via Vittorio Emanuele II). This building was constructed in the 12th Century and in 1462 was used as the foundation for the sanctuary of the Church of San Giorgio. This operation resulted in the tower being lowered and a change of use (from defence to commercial), the ground floor being converted into two large storerooms. This quadrangular tower is in large smooth or ashlar square “ceppo” stone blocks (obtained from the nearby quarries of Grè, along the Lake in the territory of Castro). On the ground floor there are two matching entrances with pointed arches and a rectangular splayed window and on the first floor windows with sandstone arch lintels similar to the gates.
The Port Tower is on the lakefront (Vicolo del Porto 15-17) acting as lookout and defence for the northern part of the village. The wall of the tower, in large square blocks, is built into modern houses and visible under the portico.
For more information:
DOTTI M., Testimonianze medievali a Lovere nel contesto del Sebino bergamasco e della Valle Camonica, in SANNAZARO M., GALLINA D. (a cura di), Casa abitationis nostre. Archeologia dell’edilizia medievale nelle province di Bergamo e Brescia, in “NAB”, 17, 2009, pp. 181-196.
MACARIO F., L’utilizzo dell’archeologia stratigrafica e delle fonti archivistiche per la ricostruzione dello sviluppo degli antichi tessuti urbanistici. La contrada di Segradino in Lovere, in Ambiente e archeologia nell’Alto Sebino, Gianico (Bs) 1997, pp. 137-198.