The Castle of Valbona
In the ultimate spurs of the Euganean Hills, at the foot of the western part of Monte di Lozzo, we find the little castle of Valbona. This is a very old land with remains of palings, and a few remains of an authentic paleo-Venetian fortress above the castle.
Before speaking of this castle, there needs to be a mention of that of Lozzo because, from the few elements known, it clearly appears that the castle of Valbona was always its annex. It seems that the castle of Lozzo goes back to 983, when earl Inghefredo dei Maltraversi was made a feudal lord by Emperor Otto II. The fortress, destroyed by Ezzelino III da Romano for the first time in 1229 and immediately reconstructed, was in the beginning of the 14th century the scene of one of the most mysterious facts in the history of the Municipal Republic of Padua. In fact, while Padua was waging a war against Cangrande della Scala, it was betrayed by earl Nicolò da Lozzo who, once found out, somehow made the della Scala family demolish his castle in 1313, so that it wouldn't fall into Padua's hands. On the place where the castle stood, the Correr palace, formerly Lando can still be seen.
Some say that the Valbona Castle was built by the Padua city-state in the epoch that preceded Ezzelino. Others, like Rusconi in his Il Castello di Valbona ("The castle of Valbona", page 60) affirm that it could go back to the period of Ezzeliano (1237- 1256). Instead, it is certain that the castle existed in 1258 as it is mentioned in the Code by Gianfrancesco Capodilista, but always as an annex to the castle of Lozzo. Only the latter castle appears in a list of castles decreed by the Padua city-state in 1275.
When the castle of Lozzo was destroyed in 1313, that of Valbona assumed a true strategic position, because it was located at the centre of the roads coming from Montagnana and from Este on the borders of the territories of Padua, Vicenza and Verona.
For this reason the da Carrara family restored and fortified it, probably in 1338. Above both portals, in white stone, is the personal symbol of Ubertino I da Carrara, a helmet with a horned Saracen on top. (However, this symbol was also adopted by Francesco I and his son.) Here we refer to the year 1338 because during this time Ubertino I initiated the construction of part of the walls of Montagnana and the castle of Este.
That under the da Carrara family the castle of Valbona was no longer a subsidiary, is supported by a letter from 1402 to all the fortresses and the garrisons in the territory, in which Francesco II Novello da Carrara ordered the captains to stay on guard, because there was talk of a betrayal. Among the captains that the letter was addressed to was that of Valbona.
With the fall of the da Carrara family and the peaceful reign of the Republic of Venice, the castle lost importance as a true fortress. It maintained, however, the attributes of an observation and control post, as shown during the war of Cambrai (1509-1518) when Cucchin, a Veronese, took it over in the name of the king of France and left a garrison there for a long period. The castle then passed to numerous owners, including the Barbarigo. The Paduan Territory illustrated by Gloria (vol. III, page 92) states that «Deggiamo alla famiglia Targa sua proprietaria la conservazione di un sì bel monumento della mezzana età» (We owe it to the Targa family, its owner, if such a beautiful monument of the past is preserved). Today, it is property of the Albrizzi earls.
The castle of Valbona is almost entirely open for tours, and it is a pleasure during nice, clear days, to look through its battlements out into the surrounding countryside, far faraway, and on towards the Paduan plain. It has a rectangular floor plan of 40x25 metres. It has six towers, of which four (at south and north) are hexagonal, and two are square (in the middle of the east and west sides). Each of these minor towers is approximately 16.3 m. tall, and right in the middle of the castle there rises the immense 22-metre main tower. The walls are 11 metre high and 1 metre thick at the base, narrowing to 0.5 m going upwards.
There are four-metre high gates, one on the east and the other on the west. The second, in addition to having the symbol of Ubertino I in white stone, also bears the coat of arms of the da Carrara. The gates definitely had draw bridges, since a profound vallum full of water surrounded the facility. The vallum was later buried. During the restoration works plenty of Istria stone balls were found, which had been probably hurled against the walls, especially during the XIII and XIV centuries. The castle has two courtyards on the inside, and has preserved the austere, military aspect that it indubitably had in the past.
Official Website: www.castellodivalbona.com