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Zumelle Castle

The Zumelle Castle, acquired in 1872 by the town of Mel who is still its owner, was the home of the wealthy Venetian Gritti family until the end of the eighteenth century, when the Republic collapsed, and before that the castle was inhabited for three centuries by the Zorzi earls, lords of Mel.

The castle, visible from the road that connects the town of Mel with Lentiai, on the left bank of the Piave river, is the result of many renovations that took place over the centuries.

Today the manor is enclosed by imposing crenellated walls surmounted by a high tower. Here take place many events, educational tours and courses and the “Fiera della Perdonanza” (Fair of Forgiveness) that each July makes you relive a glimpse of life as like in the thirteenth century, inside the magnificent scenery of the Zumelle Castle.

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Zumelle Castle

Zumelle Castle (photo F. Sovilla)

The Zumelle Castle, acquired in 1872 by the town of Mel who is still its owner, was the home of the wealthy Venetian Gritti family until the end of the eighteenth century, when the Republic collapsed, and before that the castle was inhabited for three centuries by the Zorzi earls, lords of Mel.

The castle, visible from the road that connects the town of Mel with Lentiai, on the left bank of the Piave river, is the result of many renovations that took place over the centuries.

Today the manor is enclosed by imposing crenellated walls surmounted by a high tower. Here take place many events, educational tours and courses and the “Fiera della Perdonanza” (Fair of Forgiveness) that each July makes you relive a glimpse of life as like in the thirteenth century, inside the magnificent scenery of the Zumelle Castle.

History

Tracing the history of the castle, many important historical events took place in Valbelluna.
According to tradition, the name of the castle is linked to Gianserico, trusted man of Amalasunta, queen of the Goths, who took her father's place (Teodorico) in the year 526, who, after a conspiracy with Theodatus, Amalasunta's cousin, ran away with the maid Eudosia. The two lovers hid in Valbelluna among the ruins of an ancient castle where a few years later were born two twins: Goffredo and Ildebrando. The Zumelle Castle, Castrum Zumellarum or Twins Castle, was named after this legend. The coats of arms of the town of Mel is crowned by the figure of two children, as you can see in the loggia of the Town Hall Palace in Piazza Papa Luciani square in Mel.

A second tradition, historically documented, says that the name of the castle comes from “zamelo” or “zumelo”, a word which would indicate the two twin castles of Zumelle and Castelvint, the latter located on the opposite side of the valley of the Terche stream (village of Carve), of which do not remain many traces. These two castles were used as key control points of the road leading to the Praderadego mountain pass which connects Valbelluna with Treviso. Probably fortified already in pre-Roman times, the Zumelle Castle has been for centuries crossing point between the Praderadego mountain pass, the road junction towards the town of Feltre and the Via Claudia Augusta Altinate, Roman military road, linking the Venetian lagoon with the Danube.
The castle was sought-after between the rulers of Belluno, Feltre, Ceneda (Vittorio Veneto) and the Treviso area and suffered numerous attacks and devastation. In 737 when Liutprand, Lombard king, feoffed the Zumelle court, immediately the castle was contended by Giovanni, Earl of Belluno, with bloody battles so that in 750 had to rush Astolfo (Lombard king) to redeem the war.

In 963, Ottone I of Saxony, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, gave to the bishops political roles entrusting them feudal offices and the Zumelle county becomes feud of the bishop of Belluno.

In 1027 the castle is owned by Baron Abelfredo, by the will of Conrad II the Salic, who dies without male heirs, leaving the property to his daughter Adelaita who marries Valfredo di Colfosco. The daughter Sofia marries Guecello da Camino, with the consequent union of vast estates of the Treviso province and the entire Valbelluna.
Some documents describe da Camino, Countess of Zumelle, as a proud fighter against Frederick Barbarossa, so that it is said that in 1160 she and her army helped the Castellani of San Cassiano, besieged by Christian from Mainz, vicar of the Emperor. The courageous Sofia died in 1177 in Mareno di Piave and was buried in the Abbey of Follina, confirming the close link between the feuds of Valbelluna with those of the Treviso area. In those years the castle has a heyday as to be enriched with mighty surrounding walls with four towers and a powerful military garrison.

The will of Sofia became another reson for discord and contention between Camino, Zumelle and Belluno and the county was divided into two parts. The dispute was resolved in Venice and confirmed by Frederick Barbarossa on June 2, 1177.

In 1192 the patriarch Gottifredo excommunicates the Treviso population and involved Pope Clement III and the Emperor Arrigo IV, who delegates to the Bishop of Trent the resolution of the dispute. The bishop of Belluno, Gerardo, repossess the county and the castle of Zumelle and this became an excuse to unleash devastation among the Treviso and Padova armies, which came to help the bishop following the Emperor's orders. On June 18, 1193 the excommunication was removed and delivered a judgement that definitely entrusted Sofia's estates to the bishop of Belluno. It was also decided to demolish the Zumelle Castle to not rise further contentions but fortunately Treviso asks help to the Emperor Henry IV, who cancels the judgement.

The anger of the bishop strikes all the castles occupied by Treviso in the Belluno area. On April 6, 1196 he besieges the castle, and after a bloody battle, he conquests it, burning and destroying the castle. The same thing happened to other important castles of the territory: Mirabello Castle in Sedico, Landredo castle, Castle d'Ardo (Trichiana), the Tagliata in Quero, the tower-fortress in Praderadego.

The revenge of Treviso was immediate and, led by Valperto from Onigo, the troops entered the province of Belluno crossing the Praderadego mountain pass. The bishop was wounded, taken prisoner and killed. Valperto was killed in the battle. Pope Innocent III excommunicated the Treviso area and the city suffered serious consequences.
Rizzarda da Camino, imperial vicar, repossess the castle in 1311 and renovates it as you can see it today.

In 1510 the imperial troops associated with the anti-Venetian League of Cambrai sacked the castle and the entire Valbelluna area. Feltre, in particular, was completely destroyed by a terrible fire.

Zumelle was quickly rebuilt but the structure became a countryside residence during the long period of the so-called Venetian Pax (peace).

Legends

One of the legends, documented by the historian Giorgio Piloni from Belluno, tells the story of Atleta, beautiful daughter of Earl Tucherio from Casteldardo, and of Murcimiro , earl of Zumelle who fell in love with her.
Knowing that she was betrothed to Azzone, Earl of Feltre, Murcimiro lost his wits, swearing that he would marry her even if he would have to die. During the procession that was leading Atleta to Feltre, he set an attack, where Earl Orleo, brother of the bride, was killed and he kidnapped Atleta, taking her to his castle in Zumelle.

Blinded by hatred for his son's death, Tucherio attacked with his army the Zumelle Castle, whose defenses were strengthened in the meantime. Failing to make Murcimiro come out, Tucherio devastated the neighboring villages of Tiago and Villa and then went back to his castle (Casteldardo) chased by the enemy troops. Later he tried a new siege, but the fort didn't fall under his attacks.
Meanwhile Atleta married Murcimiro and had a child, Adelardo.
Murcimiro hoped that the happy end had appeased Tucherio's soul. In fact, there was a period of peace, so much that Murcimiro lowered his defenses.

But all this was a trap: suggested by a former soldier of Zumelle, after 3 years Tucherio attacked the castle and destroyed it without difficulty. He killed Murcimiro and then set fire to the castle. Atleta was lead to Casteldardo with his son and then married Azzone.

For many years the Zumelle population discussed on how to improve the fortunes of the county. They decided to designate Adelardo, son and heir of Murcimiro, as count of Zumelle and to rebuild the castle. An embassy was sent to Tucherio that not only accepted the demands of the Zumelle population, but gave them money to help them in the rebuilding of the fortress. So he brought the little Adelardo to Zumelle, entrusting him to the protection of Ermenfredo.

A period of peace started until arrived Bellerofonte in Zumelle, Murcimiro's brother, who lived in France.
After that he heard the story and looking for revenge, he instigated Adelardo, who was fifteen years old, to attack Casteldardo and kill his grandfather Tucherio.
A short time later Bellerofonte died for fever.

Immediately Azzone replied to the attack, who in the meanwhile had settled in an ancient castle on Mount Garda near the banks of the Piave river. In fact, he sent Giovannino, son of his first wife, to ask to Adelardo to return Casteldardo and everything that had been robbed. So Adelardo destroyed the castle of Azzone and after a few years killed him during a hunt.

The death of Azzone , character of great importance and well-known in the territory, provoked the anger of Feltre and Belluno, who helped Giovannino to wage war against Adelardo. The latter asked help to his uncle Orso, Duke of Ceneda and his brother Pietro, Duke of Friuli.

The situation was in risk of deteriorating if king Astolfo wouldn't have intervened, who decided to settle the dispute with a duel in Pavia, capital of the Lombard Kingdom. It was attended by Giovannino and Ziergen Filistin, a relative of Adelardo and the latter won.
In memory of this last event a plaque was placed on a tower of the castle with a inscription remembering the victory: ZIERGEN PHILISTIN IOANNINUM AZZONIS VICIT LAUDE DEI.



Access

The castle can be visited all year.


Address:

Via Tiago
32026 Mel loc. Tiago

Contacts

Teltel +39 339 843 7269

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