What it is and where it is
The Brancaleoni Castle dominates the settlement just as its owners dominated this hamlet. At first glance, it is very compact, solid, a true fortification. Next to the tower with the clock, however, appears an element out of context: an airy, light loggia, almost a lace set in the mighty walls. Strange juxtaposition isn't it? To be fair, though, the Brancaleoni have lived here for a few hundred years; it is obvious that tastes and needs have changed with time. Reinforced walls, armories, and wolf's mouth windows thus flanked and alternated with staircases of honor, chapels, and rooms finely decorated with gilded stucco and frescoes. Just think, the castle has come to number as many as 135 rooms. Among them, 11 have been arranged in perfect sequence, to build a "Escape of Rooms" architectural element typical of the Renaissance that allows one to traverse all the rooms involved at a glance.
Why it is special
With all the adaptations and additions the castle has undergone over time, this building resembles a book on the history, art and customs of Piobbico and surrounding areas from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The tastes of the Brancaleoni family, in fact, have refined over time and come very close to those of their neighbors and friends the Montefeltro family of Urbino, so much so that the more harmonious and elegant style that characterizes rooms such as the Cortile d'Onore is reminiscent of that of the Urbino palace. The link became so strong that even some of the floors of this castle and the Ducal Palace in Urbino were made in the same kiln, found in Piobbico.
Not to be missed
Difficult, very difficult. There are so many beautifully frescoed rooms, it's really hard to choose just one. Let's do this: don't miss the interiors. Sometimes when we have many things to visit, we settle for the exteriors. Well, I strongly advise against that in this case. Even if you are not exactly an art lover, because like a good history book, the Castle also tells us, among many other things, about the daily life of the farmers and artisans of Piobbico, through the Brancaleoni Civic Museum.
Want a little extra atmosphere? From June to August, every Wednesday at 9 p.m. the castle opens its doors to be admired at night, animated by shadows and plays of light that will make your visit unforgettable!
A bit of history
The castle has grown along with those who have inhabited it for almost 500 years. When a family settled there around 1200, the creation of a medieval fortified structure was a natural action. The more the Brancaleoni's power grew, the more the palace had to be fortified, to repel any enemies and to show everyone what the family's strength and wealth was. Times changed; to celebrate the family's power and prestige, one also had to prove oneself a fine appreciator of the arts. No longer just brute strength, but elegance and refinement. Thus appeared the representative rooms, courtyards of honor, precious decorations and airy and magnificent architecture. All this beauty was in danger of being lost as a result of abandonment and severe degradation in the last post-war period, but fortunately, skillful restoration has returned this castle to its former charm.
The tower that overlooks the entrance to the castle, is complemented by two clocks, one external and one internal. Nothing unusual so far. The point is that if you turn your gaze from the inner courtyard to the tower to read the time, you notice something "extraordinary / that has the spheres full of magic / and makes time walk backwards...," to use the words of engineer Vinicio Brancaleoni. It is a clock with an anti-clockwise dial, that is, with the numbering in reverse. What a great joke huh? For years, popular legends have talked about a spite done to the Brancaleoni family, or even a simple ploy to save money and run the two dials with only one body of gears. Actually, thanks to recent studies, it turns out that this particular dial was an explicit intention of the Brancaleoni, as Vinicio's words attest, to amaze anyone who saw it.
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