Dervio, 20 maggio 2013   |  

Looking for the invisible castle built by the Romans

di Viviana Vestrucci

It is a fortification in a strategic position on the road that connects the Valtellina to Milan through the Valsassina

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Dervio is one of the most important tourist spots on the eastern shore of Lake Como, also known as the “Sailing Paradise”; yet it boosts very ancient origins as an important fortified village since Roman times for its strategic position on the road connecting Valtellina Valley to Milan through Valsassina Valley. The Castello di Orezia (Orezia Castle), on a cliff overlooking the village, is one of the remains of its past history together with the ruins of another ancient castle, Castelvedro, not far from Dervio.

Orezia Castle was built in late Middle Ages to seal off the way to Valvarrone and therefore to Valsassina Valley, but the first documented sources, speaking of a fortress, date back to 1040, when the castle underwent a long siege. Today a well-preserved tower still remains and can be reached from the road from Valvarrone, and also by a walk beginning at the foot of the cliff passing along ancient houses. According to some sources, Orezia Castle was connected by secret passages to the Corenno Castle and the village of Villa.

Close to the tower of the Orezia Castle stands the Church of St. Leonardo, with one nave and a trapezium layout converging toward the altar, which had originally been the private church of the Paruzzi-Cattaneo family.

In Dervio you can also visit the church of San Quirico and Giulitta, one of the oldest religious buildings in the area with a stone bell tower in Romanesque style built around 1080, and the church of SS. Pietro and Paolo, from the XI century, with a Romanesque bell tower as well.

The journey to explore the old defense system, created by the Romans on the shores of the lake to protect the road going to the iron mines in the upper part of the valley, takes us to Mai, which can be reached with half an hour walk from Dervio, passing by the village of Pianezzo, turning right on a path and proceeding southwards looking for a no longer existing castle, located on a hill overlooking the Dervio plain and great part of the lake. This castle had been destroyed and forgotten until sixty years ago, when the researches made by engineer Pietro Pensa led to rediscover the ruins of the walls and of the tower covered with grass and bushes.

One more option is to go further and visit Castelvedro, a fort built in the 5th - 6th century, located in a dominant position, that was part of the defense system created on the shores of the lake against the raids of the barbarians and was used to control the old road linking Dervio with Piazzo di Casargo at the entrance of Valsassina Valley.

 

 

 

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