In the area called Rocca (fortress), behind the village of Castro and in a panoramic position on Lake Iseo, a winding road to the St. Lawrence’s hill was built in medieval times: the route was used to transport goods without encroaching into the enemy territory of Lovere, avoiding the ford of the Tinazzo river that flooded the area periodically. The construction of the road entailed a significant technical and economic commitment, with the excavation of part of the hill (the Corna) and the construction of stone containment walls: the route was closed by a door placed between two grooves carved in the rock, and still visible today.
The rocha (fortress) was built on the hill of San Lorenzo, a fortified complex that controlled the borgo, as the last bastion of defence for the local population in case of an enemy attack. The construction of the fortress is contemporary to the fortification of the port, and the oldest visible structures date back to the mid 12th Century.
The fortress was formed by a wall defending a tower, of which we can still find the foundations and part of the elevation in locally quarried rusticated limestone ashlars (later restored in 1440), stone buildings to which farming facilities were subsequently lent against, a cistern carved into the rock and the church of San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence).
From the 14th Century Castro was involved in the rivalry between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, and in 1409 Pandolfo Malatesta – acknowledged lord of Bergamo and Brescia – conquered Alto Sebino, occupying Lovere and Costa Volpino: on that occasion the Castro fortress was taken away from the Foresti family (Guelph) and passed on to the Celeri family from Lovere and to the Capitani of Sovere (Ghibellines). With the pro-Ghibelline politics of Filippo Maria Visconti (1413) Castro, with a history under the Guelphs, was forced to demolish the tower near the port in the village and probably the Rocca was partially destroyed in the course of these violent struggles.
For more information:
GUALENI A., Vicus Oliviferi Castri. Castro tra il 1000 ed il 1700, Castro (Bg) 2012.
Cover photo credits: Linoolmostudio