Rotecastello a village where you imagine yourself in the Middle Ages
This is already the third part in the series Discover Umbria with our tips. And this time we let you discover Umbria with our tips for Rotecastello.
Rotecastello is a tiny medieval hamlet built against a hill. Only 14 people live there. It is known for the picturesque restaurant 'La Locanda del Borgo' where you can eat original Umbrian dishes. At the beginning of August, you can literally step into the Middle Ages there by visiting the village festival where a parade and performance in medieval costumes is always organized.
How do you get there?
You can find the village by following the signs for Rotecastello as you drive from San Venanzo to Marsciano. Do not enter the village, but leave your car outside the gate. A few of our guests have badly damaged their car driving through the gate.
The village owes its name to the circular city wall, Rota-Castello. It is believed that this site was already inhabited during the time of the Etruscans, because a fragment of an inscription from that time was found in the facade of a house in Rotecastello. It is very likely that it was once found not far from that house and used in the bricklaying of the facade.
Described weapons clatter
In 1240 Rotecastello is first mentioned in the chronicles because the tombs of Rotecastello destroyed San Vito Castello. They looted altars, set fire to the church, mutilated the men of the castle of San Vito and imprisoned the abbot and the clergy.
You must have heard of the Ghibellini and the Guelphi. Two political movements from that time. The Ghibellini wanted to separate church and state. So they were against the temporal power of the Pope. The Guelphi, on the other hand, did not want this separation of church and state and were supporters of the papal authority. The Counts of Rotecastello were Ghibellini but the owners of the castle San Vito Guelphi. By this brutal action, the counts of Rotecastello naturally incurred the vengeance of the church.
As a country estate, the castle belonged to several noble families and from the end of the 13th century to Orvieto, who eventually granted it statutes. With the reformation of Pope Pius VII who was Pope from 1800 to 1823, Rotecastello became part of the municipality of San Venanzo.
Rotecastello's defenses consisted of a double castle wall, 6 watchtowers, a moat and numerous underground passages. Remains of the walls are still clearly visible and one tower, which stands in the center of the village, has been restored.
It is said that this tower, which has no loopholes or windows, was the prison of the castle. It was also the place where death row inmates were executed in a very special way. They were thrown down from the top of the tower while there were spikes on the ground of the tower. So the condemned were impaled!
Rotecastello has 2 antique churches. In the village you will find the church of San Michele Archangelo and outside the castle wall, before you really drive up, the oldest church, the church of the Madonna della Neve (snow). This church owes its name to a beautiful fresco from the late 1500s that you can admire inside. There is also a legend about the origin of the name.
The Legend of the Snow
At that time there were several women Mary had appeared to in their dreams saying she wanted a church all to herself and would let the women know where it should be. The women, of course, told that dream to anyone who would listen. One day one of those women went to the fountain to drink water and found a small pile of dirt with snow on it. It was only August 5! This had to be the sign. The woman quickly summoned all the residents of Rotecastello. Touched by the miracle, it was immediately decided that a small church should be built on that spot, dedicated to the Madonna della Neve.
In Umbria more churches are dedicated to the Madonna della Neve and all these churches are built outside the castle walls and in all those churches there is a feast on August 5, just like in Rotecastello.
Walking around Rotecastello
Rotecastello is located on the edge of a beautiful valley and by the River Faena. In an earlier blog I told you about the antique roads which have recently been opened up by the municipality of San Venanzo, which also includes Rotecastello. If you're in Rotecastello anyway, you really should go for a walk on such an ancient connecting road! This route also returns to the starting point and is only 2.7 km. So fun to do!
Here you will find the link to the route that you can download on your mobile.
Our other tips for discovering Umbria
Discover Umbria – our tips for Greppolischieto
Discovering Umbria - our tips for Perugia
Discovering Umbria - our tips for Orvieto
Discovering Umbria - our tip for tasting wine
Discovering Umbria - our tips for visiting an ideal city
Discover Umbria - our tips for events to visit
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