The medieval town of Varzi is home to a castle built by the Malaspina family in 1164 after inheriting from Frederick Barbarossa the territory from the Rivanazzano Hills to Oramala. The structure is currently owned by the Counts of Odetti di Marcorengo, who in 1983 embarked on a redevelopment process that ended only three years ago, in order to give this gem of architecture back to the community, opening it up to the public.
Today, the castle welcomes guests for events, weddings and local culture initiatives. Its surroundings introduce visitors to renewed splendor: what used to be a vegetable garden is now the wonderful “Garden of the Contessa” and “Limonaia”. The stables have been transformed into “Antique Mangers” that maintain an original arch and stone floors, while the main dining room was created in the old barn. Renovation also extended to the 13th-century ”Antique Ice House” and the cellars, which were used to keep typical local food like wines and cured meat. Once a symbol of the economic and commercial wealth of Varzi, the castle now showcases the gastronomic treasures of the area, including prestigious wines, almond cake, mushrooms and DOP Varzi Salami.
All between folk legends and famous stories, like the one about the castle’s tower, known as “Tower of the Witches”. Some say that during the Inquisition, twenty-five women and a handful of men were imprisoned between the 170-centimeter-thick walls of the tower, accused of witchcraft and later burned at the stake in the square right next to the building.References:
The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc is a Baroque monument built in 1716–1754 in honour of God. The main purpose was a spectacular celebration of Catholic Church and faith, partly caused by feeling of gratitude for ending a plague, which struck Moravia between 1713 and 1715. The column was also understood to be an expression of local patriotism, since all artists and master craftsmen working on this monument were Olomouc citizens, and almost all depicted saints were connected with the city of Olomouc in some way. The column is the biggest Baroque sculptural group in the Czech Republic. In 2000 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.
The column is dominated by gilded copper sculptures of the Holy Trinity accompanied by the Archangel Gabriel on the top and the Assumption of the Virgin beneath it.
The base of the column, in three levels, is surrounded by 18 more stone sculptures of saints and 14 reliefs in elaborate cartouches. At the uppermost stage are saints connected with Jesus’ earth life – his mother’s parents St. Anne and St. Joachim, his foster-father St. Joseph, and St. John the Baptist, who was preparing his coming – who are accompanied by St. Lawrence and St. Jerome, saints to whom the chapel in the Olomouc town hall was dedicated. Three reliefs represent the Three theological virtues Faith, Hope, and Love.
Below them, the second stage is dedicated to Moravian saints St. Cyril and St. Methodius, who came to Great Moravia to spread Christianity in 863, St. Blaise, in whose name one of the main Olomouc churches is consecrated, and patrons of neighbouring Bohemia St. Adalbert of Prague and St. John of Nepomuk, whose following was very strong there as well.
In the lowest stage one can see the figures of an Austrian patron St. Maurice and a Bohemian patron St. Wenceslas, in whose names two important Olomouc churches were consecrated, another Austrian patron St. Florian, who was also viewed as a protector against various disasters, especially fire, St. John of Capistrano, who used to preach in Olomouc, St. Anthony of Padua, a member of the Franciscan Order, which owned an important monastery in Olomouc, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a patron of students. His sculpture showed that Olomouc was very proud of its university. Reliefs of all twelve apostles are placed among these sculptures.
The column also houses a small chapel inside with reliefs depicting Cain's offering from his crop, Abel's offering of firstlings of his flock, Noah's first burnt offering after the Flood, Abraham's offering of Isaac and of a lamb, and Jesus' death. The cities of Jerusalem and Olomouc can be seen in the background of the last mentioned relief.