The Castle of Avio (also known as Castle of Sabbionara) is one of the several castles commanding the Vallagarina valley of the Adige River. The castle is mentioned for the first time in a 1053 document as Castellum Ava. In the 12th century it was owned by the Castelbarco family, who ceded it to the Republic of Venice in 1411. The latter enlarged it and added a chapel dedicated to St. George, together with a façade showing the dogi's coats of arms.
In 1509 the castle was conquered by the troops of Maximilian I of Austria who, after painting his insignia on the façade, gave it to the counts of Arco. After several changes of property, in the 17th century the counts of Castelbarco bought it back.
The castle features three lines of walls, with five towers. Among the latter, the so-called Torre della Picadora was the place where executions (through hanging) were carried on. In the interior is the massive mastio, surrounded by several edifices, including the Baronal Palace.
The castle's rooms are decorated by a series of frescoes, undertaken in two different campaigns. The first is the 'Chamber of Love', dating to c.1330 and painted by an unknown workshop that had already worked in the Chiesa dei Domenicani in Bolzano. This room features scenes of love visible through the openings of a large painted brocade or curtain. Cupid, mounted on horseback, chases after a lover and shoots him with arrows. He is then shown making love to a young woman.
The second cycle was executed two or three decades later, c.1350, and features less elaborate paintings of battles.References:
Craigmillar is one of Scotland’s most perfectly preserved castles. It began as a simple tower-house residence. Gradually, over time, it developed into a complex of structures and spaces, as subsequent owners attempted to improve its comfort and amenity. As a result, there are many nooks and crannies to explore.
The surrounding gardens and parkland were also important. The present-day Craigmillar Castle Park has fascinating reminders of the castle’s days as a rural retreat on the edge of Scotland’s capital city.
At the core lies the original, late-14th-century tower house, among the first of this form of castle built in Scotland. It stands 17m high to the battlements, has walls almost 3m thick, and holds a warren of rooms, including a fine great hall on the first floor.
‘Queen Mary’s Room’, also on the first floor, is where Mary is said to have slept when staying at Craigmillar. However, it is more likely she occupied a multi-roomed apartment elsewhere in the courtyard, probably in the east range.
Sir Simon Preston was a loyal supporter of Queen Mary, whom she appointed as Provost of Edinburgh. In this capacity, he was her host for her first night as a prisoner, at his townhouse in the High Street, on 15 June 1567. She was taken to Lochleven Castle the following day.
The west range was rebuilt after 1660 as a family residence for the Gilmour family.
The 15th-century courtyard wall is well preserved, complete with gunholes shaped like inverted keyholes. Ancillary buildings lie within it, including a private family chapel.