Among the beauties offered by Tuscia, Castello Ruspoli (Ruspoli’s Castle) is without any doubt one of the most significant, really worth a visit, a place that any tourist interested in history and historical facts and sites should not miss.
Castello Ruspoli is an historical mansion house, of high artistic and cultural interest, based in the heart of Vignanello, a little village nestled into the Cimini’s hills, not far from Viterbo.
The ancient, noble Italian Ruspoli family, directly descending from the Marescottis of Bologna, has been administering the propriety for more than five centuries.
The origin of the rock of Vignanello hails from 853, when a group of Benedictine friars built up a monastery where now the Castle shows its magnificence. The territory belonged to the Vatican, and the rock was destroyed a few times, during the battles between the lords which ruled the area. In 1531 Pope Pio III granted the domain of the feud to his nephew Beatrice Farnese, the very first feudatory of Vignanello. Thereafter it was inherited by her daughter Ortensia Farnese who married Sforza Marescotti from Bologna.
A very important step for the developing of the Castle took place in 1574 with the marriage of Marcantonio Marescotti with Ottavia Orsini, daughter of Pierfrancesco Orsini lord of Bomarzo and creator of “Sacro Bosco – Park of Monsters”. The young countess, following her father’s footsteps, decided to create a garden according to the habits of that period: a large rectangular space, divided into twelve parterres of boxus and laurus, now one of the best preserved Italian gardens in the world.
One of Ottavia’s and Marcantonio’s daughter, Clarice, also became very famous. When still young, she was forced by her father to became a nun in a cloistered convent, taking the name of Giacinta. At the beginning, she refused this fate, but year after year she became very closed to the poor people, founded an important social order and dedicated her life helping the neediest, thus becoming Saint Giacinta Marescotti in 1807, now the patron saint of Vignanello.
In 1616 Vicino Sforza married Vittoria Ruspoli from Siena and according to the marriage’s agreements, he took the wife surname, giving it to his descendants. His nephew Francesco Maria, years later, inherited surname and richness.
The first half of 1700 was dominated by the extraordinary figure of Georg Friedrich Hændel, remembered nowadays as one of the most generous philanthropists who was hosted in Vignanello for two years. Here, Hændel met the best conditions to compose some of his most important operas like “La Resurrezione” and “Salve Regina”, just to mention a few.
The genius of Hændel brougth to Francesco Maria the benevolence of Pope Clemente XI who in 1709 nominated him as Prince of Cerveteri. Thanks to this new title and the richness obtained, Prince Francesco Maria Ruspoli promoted some of the most important urban operas in Vignanello giving to the town the new and luxuriant face, visible nowadays.
and the wonderful and perfectly managed Italian garden, often used for top class events.