Set in the greenery of Bracciano, a place frozen in time, is the Orsini Odescalchi Castle. With its trapezoidal layout and six large towers, it is one of the largest in Europe and dates from 1400.
The first section of the building probably dates back to the twelfth century, when the castle belonged to the Prefects of Vico.
In 1419, the Pope granted it as a fiefdom to the Orsini family, who were responsible for its radical enlargements and reconstructions. Later, Pope Alexander VI Borgia tried to take it back but the siege of the papal troops could do nothing against the castle and village’s excellent fortifications: after a few months the papal troops left Bracciano for the Cimini mountains where they were defeated by the Orsini family once and for all in the battle of Soriano.
The Castle was sold at auction in 1695 to the Odescalchi, the family of Pope Innocent XI, who sold it to the Torlonia in 1803. A few years later, with the 1861 marriage of Prince Livio III to the Polish heiress Sofia Branicka, the castle returned to the Odescalchi, who are the current owners.
The castle’s frescoes, painted by artists of the school of Antoniazzo Romano, date to the 15th century. In the camera papalina (papal room), named for Pope Sixtus IV after he fled there to avoid the plague, the frescoes are by the Zuccari brothers.
Opened to the public in 1952 as a private museum at the behest of Prince Livio IV Odescalchi, the rooms host a large collection of art objects: furniture dating back to the 15th and 19th centuries, an extensive collection of weapons, the picture gallery with early Renaissance paintings, a collection of 15th to 19th-century ceramics from central Italy and, finally, an archaeological collection of Etruscan and Roman artefacts.
In the last decades, Castello di Bracciano has become a favourite location for VIP weddings, from Tom Cruise to Eros Ramazzotti, just to name a few.
The Castle is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 6pm (5pm in winter).
For information and reservations: 0699802379 – firstname.lastname@example.org – www.odescalchi.it