From the hamlet of Somasca a path takes the visitors to the so-called “castle of the Unnamed”, a fortress that dates back to ancient times and overlooks the area of Como Lake. According to the legend, the castle was home to “The Unnamed”, one of Manzoni's most terrible characters in his novel “The Betrothed”
We couldn't talk about the Manzonian itinerary on Como Lake without talking about the castle of the Unnamed. Located on a natural hill which is the highest point of Somasca, a district of the village named Vercurago, the castle offers a nice view of the lake and, to the brave ones, a thrilling insight into one of the most hated Manzoni's characters ever.
According to the first historical records that have been found, the castle was built in the fourteenth century and was at first belonging to the Visconti family, who ruled Milan between 1277 and 1447. Even if a central tower lets thinking that the fortress was actually built well before, during the Carolingian period, and then rebuilt by the Milanese family.
The castle was then home to Francesco Bernardino Visconti, a member of the Visconti family thought by many to have inspired Alessandro Manzoni's character of “The unnamed”, the dreadful lord who kidnaps the novel's female main character, Lucia, preventing her to marry her beloved Renzo and keeps her prisoner in the same castle. The major buildings of the ancient castle can still be seen nowadays, even if most of it has been damaged throughout the years. Built to serve as a defence structure in the war opposing the sea-faring Republic of Venice “ La Serenissima” and the Dukedom of Milan, the castle was then used by Saint Girolamo Emiliani of the order of the Somaschi Fathers, the same order by which Manzoni was educated.
The saint used parts of the fortified complex to host orphans he was taking care of as well as some members of his congregations. The fortress was then almost totally damaged in 1509, by hand of the French soldiers. Parts of the walls have been damaged by the Austrian army, which was fighting against the French when they tried to reconquer Lecco in 1799. The local population made the rest, stealing from the castle little pieces, year after year, which were used to build houses or burned during cold winters.
Some parts are still open to the visitors, who can appreciate the perimetral wall, some towers, parts of its defensive structures, its chapels and the saint Emiliani's sanctuary. As well as the staircase that leads to the castle, which is original and carved directly from the rock. But, of course, one thing that is still intact and keeps on attracting visitors is the charm this castle owns, for its location but, mostly, for its veiled legendary past, split between saints and evil lords.