Fleeing from the Normans and carrying with them the relics of their founder, St-Laumer, some Benedictine monks found shelter in Blois where they decided to build their abbey. the present church, today known as St. Nicolas, but whose real name is St. Laumer, was the former abbey-church.
From 1138 to 1186 these monks built the choir, the transept and the first row of columns of the abbey-church, completing it at the beginning of the next century. During the War of Religion the church was disfigured and the abbey itself destroyed by the Protestants. In the 17th and 18th centuries abbey was rebuilt, it was turned into a hospital at the time of the Revolution.
The speed with which the church was built and the sole addition of the apse chapel in the 14th century give a surprising unity to the whole. On entering the church, one could imagine that it was worked in the same stone by the same workman, for the same majestic and robust characteristics appear in all the different parts of the church. The elegant form of the choir, the crossbar, the majestic pillars of the transept-cross, the statues of people and masks which are to be found along the entire length of the building, the perspective inside the church, where the horizontal lines dominate the verticals; all this adds up to harmonious ensemble, which places the abbey-church of St. Laumer among the most remarkable examples of French medieval architecture.
However, two different periods of construction - about 20 years between them - have left the building with two different, and very marked, architectural styles. It is from the center of the church that the visitor will be able to notice these characteristics the most easily.References:
Soave castle was built in 934 to protect the area against the Hungarian invasions. It was remodelled by Cansignorio of the Scaliger family in the mid-1300s. in 1365 Cansignorio had the town walls erected and the Town hall was built in the same year.
The castle underwent various vicissitudes until, having lost its strategic importance, it was sold on the private market in 1596. In 1830 it was inherited by Giulio Camuzzoni who restored the manor and in particular the surroundings walls (with is twenty-four towers), the battlements and living-quarters.
Soave castle is a typical medieval military edifice, commanding the neighbourhood of the city from the Tenda Hill. It comprises a mastio (donjon) and three lines of walls forming three courts of different size. The outer line, with a gate and a draw bridge, is the most recent, built by the Venetians in the 15th century. It houses the remains of a small church from the 10th century.
The second and larger court, the first of the original castle, is called della Madonna for a fresco portraying St. Mary (1321). Another fresco is visible after the door leading to the inner court, and portrays a Scaliger soldier. The mastio is the most impressive feature of the castle. Bones found within showed it was used also as prison and place of torture.
The House called del Capitano (the Scaliger commander) houses Roman coins, weapons parts, medals and other ancient remains found during the most recent restoration. Adjacent is a bedroom with a 13th-century fresco with St. Mary and Madeleine and a dining room with medieval kitchenware. Another room houses the portraits of the most famous Scaliger figures: Mastino I, Cangrande, Cansignorio and Taddea da Carrara, wife of Mastino II; the portrait of Dante Alighieri testify an alleged sojourn of the poet in the castle.