I Castelli di Cannero

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The town of Cannero is pictured here on a series of notecards I currently have on my website, Tesoro Treasures.

A short distance from the shores of the ritzy and gorgeous Cannero Riviera on Lago Maggiore are the ruins of an old and delapidated medieval castle of which I would have loved to have taken some pictures of had they not been covered in scaffolding.  The castles are being restored, but this restoration is the subject of much controversy.  Evidently, the restorations are not being done in accordance with the strict historical guidelines of preservation.  The historical societies have raised alarm because the buildings are being restored just for the sake of restoration, without paying any heed to restoring them to preserve the architecture.  There are fears that the castles are being ruined and will be lost forever.  Therefore, the restorations have come to halt until a resolution can be reached.  Meanwhile, the cranes and the scaffolds sit on the island and ruin any picture taking possibility.  Fortunately, there is the internet which allows us to find beautiful pictures sans construction equipment!

Courtesy of distrettolaghi.it

The Cannero Riviera is a romantic destination with lights twinkling on the lake and a gorgeous promenade made just for strolling.  But Cannero hasn’t always been such an idyllic place.  The castles hide a dark past, and I’m sure living in Cannero during the 14th century was anything similar to romantic.  These were times of turf wars, and allegiances were preserved with force.  The castles, also known as the “Malpaga Castles”,  were places of torture and crime.  They were the base of the wicked Mazzarditi Family who were known for horrible raids on those that didn’t vow allegiance to them.  After the Mazzarditi’s came the Visconti’s, only to lose control to Milan’s powerful Sforza’s family. Finally, in the 16th century, the Borromeo Family (of Isola Bella fame) took over control of the castles and erected the Vitaliana Fortress on the site to protect the area from invasion by the Swiss.  Cannero did not gain its romantic reputation until the 18th century when it became a popular holiday destination for British royalty and other dignitaries.  Winston Churchill and Garibaldi were also known to have spent time here.

Places such as the Castles of Cannero always fascinate me – what now seems so idyllic and peaceful have violent histories with stories that intrigue and captivate the imagination. They are  living history museums of which I never cease to tire of.

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