Soave is a town in the province of Verona.
It is not clear whether it was the village that gave its famous wine its name, or the wine that gave its name to the village. Legend has it that it was even Dante Alighieri, guest for a banquet at the Scaliger castle to give the name “Soave” to the town by virtue of its delicious wine. More likely the name of Soave derives from the mispronunciation of the name of the Swabian tribes who settled here, following King Alboin.
The Scaliger Castle
It is the main reference point of the territory and is one of the most typical and characteristic medieval military structures.
It rises on the little elevated Monte Tenda (m.110) to dominate the underlying town and a large slice of the Verona plain.
It is formed by a mighty tower, the impregnable Mastio, and by several turns of walls with internal courtyards. A wider circle of walls closes down the historic center of the original town including 24 well-preserved towers.
The inner courtyard is accessed by a characteristic pedestrian drawbridge.
Improperly called Castello Scaligero, its origins are much older. Surely it was built on the ruins of a Roman fortress, but probably there were even older settlements as the very near Monte Rocchetta.
The first document that certifies the presence of an important castle is the Diploma of Federico Barbarossa in favor of the Counts Sambonifacio.
Subsequently the castle is a fief of the Greppi who ceded it to the City of Verona in 1270.
With the Scaligera domination the castle, finding itself towards the Vicenza border, grows enormously of military importance. The Scaligeri undertake an important restructuring and expansion that includes the walls around the town. The castle assumes the definitive imprint typical of the buildings of the Veronese seigniory, including the nickname of Castello Scaligero.
In 1338 he suffered a bloody assault by the Venetian, with the army captained by Rolando De Rossi, but the intervention of Mastino della Scala foils the final conquest in a bloodbath. Between 1369 and 1375 Cansignorio intervenes with a new expansion and restoration: the castle and the city walls take the definitive forms as we see them still today.
Fallen the Scaligera dynasty the entire territory of Verona passes to the Visconti of Milan and after alternating events that see the county also in the hands of the Paduan Carraresi and the Gonzaga Milanese, the whole Veneto is ‘donated’ to the Venetian Republic in Venice in 1405.
The castle underwent new assaults in 1439, again by the Visconti, while in 1508 in the advance of the connected Lega di Cambrai the fortress was disarmed and abandoned by the Venetians. The surrounding territory is a bloody battle theater, during which many civilians are also killed to defend the interests of the Serenissima republic.
The castle becomes the headquarters of Emperor Maximilian of Austria. Only in 1517, after the devastating fury of the war, was returned to Andrea Gritti, then administrator in Verona and later Doge, and returns to being Venetian.
Lost the military importance the fortress is abandoned, vast internal areas ceded to private citizens, the manor bought by the rich Venetian family of Gritti (1556) and transformed into a residence and agricultural farm.
After the splendor of the rich Venetian families, bleeding from the financial harassment of the new Austrian master, the properties are sold off and the castle left in total abandonment. Now it is impossible not to get lost in its alleys that bring you back to the mind and imagination of ancient knights and ancient ladies who walked the same way.
Around Soave the landscape is enchanting, made of hills covered with vineyards and small villages. The plateau is characterized by karstic phenomena and fossil deposits that bear witness to its marine origin (Bolca). Behind the village there are the Lessini mountains, while downstream the river Adige, with its loops.