A few miles away from Rome, on the southern shore of Lake Bracciano, stands the majestic Odescalchi Castle, one of the most beautiful medieval residences in Europe, whose ancient history, weapons, furniture, paintings, books, manuscripts, decorations and frescoes still echo of medieval tales and tournaments. It was built in 1470 by Napoleon Orsini and completed in 1485 by his son Gentile Virginio. Over the centuries it has been fought over by the most prominent and powerful Roman aristocrat families, such as the Colonnas, the Borgias, the Della Roveres and the Orsinis, most of them linked to names of famous popes.
Because of its strategic position the castle became an administrative and representative venue for them, enjoying the decoration with pictorial cycles of frescoes painted at different times by the most important masters of the time such as Antoniazzo Romano, the Zuccari brothers, Giacomo del Duca, a pupil of Michelangelo, who was hired to paint some rooms on the occasion of the wedding of Isabella de’ Medici to Paolo Giordano Orsini. After the French occupation by Napoleon, its precious furnishings were looted; the castle and the estate were first sold, then ransomed back by Prince Livio Odescalchi III, in 1848. Since then the Hall of the Caesars, the Secret Garden, the Ancient Tower, the Hall of Arms and five hundred years of history have continued to live on in the halls and gardens of Castello Odescalchi, that has become in recent years a popular location for conventions, cultural and private events and a favorite venue for weddings among Hollywood star, royalties, aristocrats, showbiz and beyond, including Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and Italian pop star Eros Ramazzotti, among the others.