Thursday, June 11, 2009

Castel Brando...

We had an incredible time on our Marriage Retreat. Sorry it's been so long until I was able to post something about it but with Brandon home I don't spend much time on the computer.

So about our retreat....we stayed at Castle Brando which is located between three little towns actually. It's a different type of Castle then most around the area. This castle is set on a hill so they could see everything coming from all directions. To get to the castle you can drive but since we were on a bus we had to park at the bottom and take the tram or the stairs to the top. It was really neat. The tram was all glass so you could see out over the town while you were going up.
The tram and stairs to the Castle
One of the many views from the Castle
The castle itself was built in three different time eras. There was the mid-evil, the 17th century and the 19th century. The only part standing from the mid-evil time was the towers and what they used as the garage. The pinkish part was the 17th century and the small horseshoe shaped white building was the 19th century.

The front of the Castle, I believe these could have been part of the Mid-Evil Era

Mid-Evil Era

17th Century and the corner of the 19th Century on top of Mid-Evil Era

The court yard of the horseshoe, 19th Century part of the castle

Walking into the castle for the first time is very overwhelming. It's a huge open area where the carriages used to drop off people. They would stop at the bottom of an extravagant staircase which has 3 levels. Each level is made up of 14 stairs and each flight is made out of one piece of marble. The first level was the Brandolini bedrooms, The 2nd level was for the Dining and the top level was for guests who had arrived. The count would stand up at the top of the staircase and the guests would walk up the stairs and they would all go sit and drink tea/coffee that kind of thing.

Stairway to the Count and Theater as well as the cells/torture chambers

When the carriages droped the people off at the bottom of the stairs they would "park" down here in the "garages" until the guests were ready to leave.

A Winding staircase that went down 9 floors!

The chandelier in the Counts bedroom (we weren't supposed to go in there)

Just about every room had a chandelier

At the top of the stairs is the Theater. There are two fireplaces in this room that are original that were given to the Brandolinis as a gift for a wedding that had taken place. When a Brandolini got married their family seal would change. The Brandolini symbols were the three looped rope up top and the scorpions in lines on the bottom. If it was on the left it meant a male Brandolini got married and on the right a female Brandolini got married. There was one seal however that had two Brandolini crests. Of course we asked about incest and it sure was. When a female married back then all their riches and property went to the man no matter what. There was no separation of things, it all just belonged to the man. So in order to keep the castle and riches in the family a female Brandolini married her cousin who was also a Brandolini. This way the castle and riches went to the man but since he was a Brandolini it stayed in the family.

Some of the crests painted on the walls in the theater.

If you look at the seal in this room it is the "incest" seal!

In the 1900's the castle belonged to the monks. They didn't have the money to fix it up so it just kept falling apart. The final restoration of the Castle was done by it's most recent owner and finally opened to the public in 2001. It was changed into a hotel then and all the updates had been made. It was sad to see it had changed so much from time to time but it was still an incredible experience.

There are three museums in the Castle, 1 of which we got to see. We saw the museum of weapons. There were only 5 pieces that were original and those 5 were body armor and helmets.

There are also 8 bars in the Castle. They aren't all drinking bars. Some are snack bars and that kind of thing but they do all serve drinks. There is one in the main lobby that isn't real big but always has someone at the counter, and one downstairs called the Donetello. We went there to get drinks but there were too many people in line and we had already waited 15 minutes so we just decided to raid the mini bar in the room! It was still fun that way and wasn't too terribly expensive.

There wasn't much to do at the Castle but there were plenty of paths and people to hang out with. We walked quite a ways away from the castle out in the woods and it was great. So peaceful. And with there being so many other couples on the retreat there was always someone willing to take pictures for us.

Brandon and I on our walk in the woods

A Marble statue of Mary and baby Jesus. There were so many rosaries hung on them, it was neat!

Of course the castle has it's own winery!

A different view from the castle, this time at night.

The castle lite up at night!
Of course at a marriage retreat you take a class on healthy marriages. We actually took two classes, one each day and they were only about an hour long. A little longer but only because we talked alot. So, did we learn anything? Nothing new really. It was nice to see other marriages that work out like mine and Brandon's does and also those that really did need help. Everyone had great ideas about how a marriage should be and all that. The Chaplin's were incredible and very funny so it made the classes that much more fun. We had snacks that were great, cookies, tea, coffee, juice. There were these little round cookies made out of some kind of wafer that had chocolate in the middle and oh they were soooo yummy! For dinner we had pasta, chicken and Tirimisu and for Lunch the next day we had Pizza. It's weird, you order a pizza here and they don't bring you a slice they bring you the whole pizza!!! There were 10 whole pizza's at our table. But now I know.
Well that's our retreat in a nut shell. We had an incredible time and I can't wait to go on another one! The best part is you will always learn something new because you aren't always going with the same people.


  1. This looks so awesome! Good for you for getting such an experience. Beautiful and very interesting.

  2. This would be the perfect place for a destination wedding, however, it is expensive!!! They do themed weddings here too, where everyone dresses in midevil gowns and all that! It would be cool to see...