Capiate Castle

The Castle of Capiate, also known as the Corte di Sant’Ambrogio, was the seat of power during the High Middle Ages.

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Capiate Castle

In the various centuries, there were many disputes and sales among the lords who owned the complex and the land adjacent to the Capiate Castle.

The country

Capiate is a fraction of the municipality of Olginate, in the province of Lecco. The history of this place, particularly in the Ancient Age and in the Middle Ages, tells stories of great interest. Archaeological investigations have led to luca fragments of proto-historic ceramics. A proof that these places have been inhabited for over 2000 years. Capiate was situated on one of the main roads of the pre-Roman era, which led from the plain beyond the Alps. The Adda and the Lecco branch of Lake Como also represented particularly important waterways for travel and transportation. Along the river, near Capiate, there still exists a toponym, the port, to indicate a portion of the shore of an easy landing, probably equipped as such even in the most ancient times.

Roman times

Lapide romana capiateOther excavations have made it possible to identify many remains of structures attributable to the Roman era. A plaque with a commemorative inscription dating back to the second century AD concerning an important magistrate was recovered. The discovery of a Roman altar in granite would lead to the hypothesis of the presence of a place of worship or a mausoleum. In particular, with reference to the tombstone, the inscription refers to a priest of the emperor cult, in the specific case of Tito Flavio Vespasiano [79-81]. The first section of the Adda valley played an important strategic role. In other words, there is evidence of the large number of finds that have involved, in addition to Capiate, also the area of ​​the sink.

Capiate was a tax house, as would emerge from the will of Rottopert of Agrate, a senior royal official. This document dates back to the year 745. During the Middle Ages, the family of the Counts of Lecco dominated the Adda territories until 975, the year of their extinction. When Attone, the last count, died without leaving offspring, the valley of the Coma Adda was divided into two distinct areas. The territories east of the Adda were donated to the church of Bergamo, constituting the entity known today as the Valle di San Martino. The west part, the so-called Brianza, from the mountain of the same name, was incorporated into the Martesana district.

Lords of Airuno

That of the Lords of Airuno was the most important family in the district of Capiate. Of Lombard law, they formed the original stock of the families that dominated the territory during the Middle Ages. They resided in the castle located on the relief that flanks the Adda on the right bank, from which it dominated the entire valley from Lake Olginate to the hills of Meratese. The castle was presumably destroyed between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Above its ruins, today stands the Renaissance church of Santa Maria della Rocca. Capiate was an important agricultural center already in antiquity and was the place where the dominus resided. Villa Capiate, today Villa San Carlo, was the village where the population was established.

In a document dated 1110 the Capiate castrum is mentioned for the first time. Probably, as early as the tenth century, fortified structures were created that could withstand the attacks of the Hungarians. The ancient by foundation the Basilica of San Nazaro represented for many centuries the heart of the religious life of the communities of the area. Even today important vestiges of the medieval religious building are still visible.

Castle of Capiate

Castello di Capiate 05

In the various centuries, there were many disputes and sales among the lords who owned the complex and the land adjacent to the Capiate Castle. During the 17th century the property passed to the Mornico di Varenna family. The members of this family were wealthy landowners and tied to the Spanish government of the Duchy of Milan.

They possessed, among other things, the Villa Monastero in Varenna, famous at the time for its beauty and grandeur. The Mornico family held the former Castle of Capiate, now transformed into an efficient farm with attached manor house called “Villa la Torre”, for almost three hundred years, until 1901.

In 1901 the last heir of the Mornico family sold to Carlo Figini, the property of the former Castle of Capiate. The villa had already been almost entirely used as a dwelling for peasants. The owner kept only a couple of rooms at the top of the tower. Figini used every room to create housing for new working tenants. In 1941 the Nobili family of Milan acquired the complex, and then resold it in 1952 to the current property.


The post-war period saw Capiate grow both in terms of new residential buildings and industrial settlements, which today tighten what remains of the ancient monuments on every side. In recent years, an association has been formed, the Capiate Association, with the aim of protecting and enhancing the historical, architectural, cultural and environmental heritage of Capiate. The Association aims to develop projects for the recovery of historic buildings in Capiate. It provides support and advice to the various interested owners and intervenes to protect and enhance buildings.


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