Like many other fortresses in the Garda area, this castle was probably built in the 10th century as a reaction to Hungarian invasions.
Today it still dominates from the top of the village of Soiano del Lago, connected to the village by a tree-lined avenue that is really pleasant to enjoy with a walk. If once it was a strategic point of Garda for sightings, today this territory reveals itself with its scenic view of the lake and the morainic hills of the nearby Valtenesi.
Walls and towers in Soiano, for the defensive system
The height on which it was built was adequate: about 200 meters high, with a square plan and high walls, built in various points with stones and pebbles bound by mortar.
Perhaps it was based on an existing defensive structure on this western shore of Garda. According to some scholars, the current fortified complex of Soiano derives from several buildings started since Roman times and continued in the high Middle Ages.
If in times of peace the castle was used by the notables as a seat for administering justice, or for the election of municipal consuls, in times of war, as we said, it represented a safe refuge for the population of the village and the surrounding countryside.
The walls of the castle, once crenellated, had been designed with the presence of a square tower and another trapezoidal one. One of the towers that was once the main guard of the fortress, in the 17th century was transformed into the bell tower of the nearby parish church San Michele Arcangelo – and serves as a clock tower. It was probably the original entrance tower, which dominated the landscape of Valtenesi and allowed visual contact with the neighboring castles.
For those arriving in Soiano del Lago, access to the manor took place from the west, through the old gate and the bell tower, next to which the pedestrian passage is still visible, now walled up. Above the two doors, you can also see the signs of the structures that held the old drawbridge where probably the carts passed to enter the fortified citadel.
Other defensive towers were present along the walls, and the one to the north is still well preserved today. Each tower was equipped with loopholes, for defense from the inside, while today at the northern one, you can access and admire, in a much less watchful way, the panorama of Garda and the hills.
Inside the castle
After passing two small courtyards with a second protected passage, you enter a large space, about 1000 square meters, which was designed to accommodate the carts and inhabitants of Soiano in the event of possible assaults.
Today, in this space, events and shows take place, and all the walls of the castle of Soiano become a stage for social life, especially in summer.
Every event is managed by the municipality of Soiano del Lago, given that since 1985 the castle has been donated to the public good by the previous owners, the Omodeo-Salè family. This family had previously restored the fortress after the injuries of time from the Middle Ages until today, and a plaque on the entrance of the castle testifies to the restoration works. At the architectural level, in fact, the wall circuit had preserved itself well enough, and still shows the signs of the crenellation of the past.
Everything else, restored as best as possible, is still today a suggestive place where you can feel part of a past in which Garda was the object of continuous invasions.