Soncino Castle & Top Things to do in Soncino Italy – Soncino is in Lombardia under the province of Cremona. Soncino is a small town but the charm of Soncino is undeniable and in Soncino, there are interesting things to visit. Immersed in the countryside stands this ancient village full of history and with a beautiful castle. What to know about Soncino Castle? What are the best and most interesting things to do in Soncino?
Table of Contents
Soncino Things to do
Here is our list of Things to do in Soncino Italy
- The Castle of Soncino
- The House of the Printers
- Oldest church in the diocese of Cremona
- Silk Museum
- Civic Archaeological Museum
Surmounted by its castle, Soncino takes its visitors back in time to the Middle Ages. At that time the Rocca Sforzesca had a defense function.
Visiting the castle of Soncino you can imagine knights entering the castle on horseback, just like in some scenes of Ladyhawke, a film partly shot here.
Castle or Fortress?
What we commonly call Soncino Castle is actually a fortress. What’s the difference? The difference is that the lord, the noble owner, generally inhabits the castle, while the fortress only has a military defense function.
Who commissioned the construction of the Rocca di Soncino?
The Sforza family commissioned the Rocca di Soncino to the same architect who also designed the Sforzesco Castle in Milan.
When was the Rocca di Soncino built?
The Rocca di Soncino was built in just 3 years. How is it possible? First of all it was possible because it was made of bricks, on a pre-existing base and then it is said that the furnaces for creating the building material were placed directly in front of the fortress in order to speed up the time.
What is special about Rocca di Soncino?
1 of the 5 drawbridges still functioning in Italy belongs to the Rocca di Soncino and it is also precisely for this reason that it was chosen as the location for the film Ladyhawke.
The 2 drawbridges
The fortress of Soncino has 2 drawbridges: one overlooks the town while the other overlooks an ancient Roman commercial road.
Why was the Rocca di Soncino built precisely in this position?
The Rocca di Soncino was built right here as it is located in a privileged and strategic position. It is located on a natural hill and from the Soncino fortress it was possible to see and control the nearby cities such as Cremona, Bergamo, Brescia and Milan.
Curiosities about the Rocca di Soncino prison
In the Rocca di Soncino prison we note that there was the possibility of sitting down. This tells us that it was a prison for the rich as they were given this opportunity. The prisoner remained approximately 1 month or a month and a half inside the prison, however long enough for the prisoner’s family to pay the ransom.
The conditions inside the prison were however very unfavorable as the prisoner remained in the dark and clearly there was no bathroom but his needs were always done inside the prison itself. However, at least with the possibility of sitting the prisoner could avoid sleeping on the floor right next to his needs.
Inside the fortress we find a kitchen. This kitchen was used only for the captain while the others cooked and ate wherever they could.
Soncino: a free port
Going up the stairs and along the walkway that runs along the castle walls you pass through one of the towers where you find some very interesting paintings that tell you a lot about the city of Soncino.
The wall painting that interests us depicts a dog with a chain and behind him we can see the owner, but only his hand can be seen. The dog is typically a faithful animal but this dog, despite having a chain, is not tied.
Everything clearly depicts the fact that Soncino was a free port. Being a free port for a city in the past was a great privilege and advantage. In fact, not only did the people of Soncino have advantages from a fiscal point of view but they also had advantages regarding their independence.
In fact, the Duke could not enter the free port city if the lord of the city itself did not give consent. For this reason the dog is not tied and only the hand of the owner, or the duke, can be seen, because he could not enter and interfere without permission.
On the other hand, however, if the city had not proven faithful, like a good dog, the duke could find a pretext to remove the free port from the city. The fact that the owner’s hand is behind the dog reminds the city to be careful as the duke is there to control and can easily find a pretext to take away the city’s free port rights. However, it must be said that it has never happened that the right of free port was taken away from the city of Soncino.
Contrary to what happened with Soncino, the duke managed to remove the right of free port from the city of Cremona. In fact, the city of Cremona somehow forced the duke to grant the right of free port to the city but the duke never accepted this fact. For this reason he secretly plotted to remove the right of free port from the city of Cremona.
During the fights between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, the duke secretly supported the empire by quietly stirring up the city of Cremona against the papacy, to the point where the inhabitants of Cremona publicly burned a crucifix.
Then the same duke who had somehow fomented the revolt seeks the Pope’s support, telling him that he can resolve the situation. The Pope guarantees his support and the Duke in this way succeeds in his aim to remove the right of Free Port from the city of Cremona.
Curiosities about the snake symbol of the Sforza family
Legend has it that the snake that is part of the symbol of the Sforza family was a large snake or dragon named Tarantasio. Tarantasio wandered around Lake Gerundo terrorizing the surrounding population as he massacred men and especially children.
Lake Gerundo was a lake located in Lombardy between the Adda and Serio beds. In Crema the existence of this lake is well known as it also touched these areas. But now this lake no longer exists.
In the Sforza symbol we see that a person comes out of the mouth of this snake. This person represents a member of the Sforza family, indicating that even if the snake was very strong and feared, the Sforza family was even more powerful.
The history of the Soncino Castle or Rocca Sforzesca
The Rocca Sforzesca was built in 1473 and the architecture of the Castello di Soncino almost completely follows the traditional schemes, except for the thickness of the walls, which has been increased to cushion the blows of the artillery.
The fortress was adapted as a residence when this fief was given to the Stampa family in 1536. To accommodate this family of marquises inside the castle, rooms were created by closing some terraces. A private chapel was created in the southeast tower.
The Marquis Ermete I also added the ravelin in 1545. What is a ravelin? A ravelin is a type of independent fortification generally placed to protect a door of a major fortification. It is, in fact, a masonry element erected in front of the doors to defend them from fire and enemy bullets.
The ravelin, however, was built towards the village, not the countryside. How come? Because the most feared enemies of the Marquis Ermete I were the reluctant subjects living in Soncino.
The Soncino Castle is connected to the church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie by a tunnel that was already unusable in 1605.
The fortress remained of the Stampa family until 1876 when the family’s last heir left the ancient fortress to the Municipality of Soncino. At that time, however, the fortress was now reduced to ruin.
The Soncino Castle was then restored between 1886 and 1895 by the architect Luca Beltrami according to the theory of historical architectural restoration, that is, based on archival documentation.
The relief bridge over the countryside was built in 1912 and the drawbridge in the 1950s by the local Scuola di Disegno.
Opening hours of the Soncino Castle
The House of Printers Museum of Printing
Soncino also has a very important historical value for another factor. It is in fact at the house of printers in Soncino that the first Bible in Italy was printed.
Press Museum Opening Hours
Oldest church in the diocese of Cremona
In Soncino there is also the oldest church in the diocese of Cremona. Here is the location: https://maps.app.goo.gl/CjHygqThsoZFBD2V6.
Inside this church is characterized by the wonderful starry blue of the ceiling, the stained glass windows and the main rose window also visible from the outside.
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