The Castle

The castle of Lonato, commonly known as Rocca in English, citadel, stands on the top of one of the hills of the natural moraine amphitheatre dominated in the south part of lake Garda.
On the south side of this hill rises the old part of the town of Lonato whose extreme periphery extends today as far as the edge of the Padana plain.
The fortification which is specifically intended for military and defensive properties is one of the most imposing in Lombardy. Its irregular ground plan in fact reveals the structure which is almost 180 m long and average 45 m wide. It is made by two sections: the Rocchetta in the highest part and lower down the section known as the main quarter. Despite the long domination of the Visconti and Scaligeri families, the complex made of large moraine blocks and guelf style battlements it’s certainly the result of restoration carried out over the years.
The entrance of the castle is in the southern side where there is a gate and drawbridge.
On the right side of the main entrance there’s a postern for pedestrians, while in the upper part in a recess there is a lion of Saint Mark, the symbol of Venetian domination.
Before the entrance, again on the right, stands the massive pebble and brick structures of the bulwark at the top of which there’s still traces of cavities that can be interpreted as emplacements for the cannons that defending the fortification.
After the entrance on the left there is a large stone coat of arms of the town of Lonato and further on the remains of the guardrooms, and through the lower part of  this, you can entry in the Casamatta of the bulwark.
At the end of the short ramp on the left is the Main Quarter where there is the remains of the fireplaces of the barracks for the troops quarters, a room with a wide oven and a well to collect rainwater .
A small doorway with pointed arch leads into the Tramontana Northern Quarter, at the end of which we can find the remains of a lookout and artillery post.
Going back along through the walkway, from which there is a spectacular view over Lake Garda, you arrive at the entrance of the Rocchetta, next to which you can note the solid structure of the keep, where there is also a prison.
Going through the entrance, on the right, you find the restored rooms of the Monizioni quarter, going through this you can reach the top of the keep, the highest point of the whole fortress.
On the southern side, from which you can get an excellent view of the old center of the town and most of the plain, there are still the remains of some rooms, practically just a floors however.
In the Rocchetta is the House of the Captain, the old residence of the fortress chief which has a rectangular floor plan.
The civic Ornithological museum has been set up in the area on a mezzanine floor, where you can still find a Renaissance fireplace. Under this room is a vast basement, once a storehouse or stable, transformed into a modern conference room.
At the back of the house some cisterns for collecting rainwater have come to light, water was also supplied by the spring water well which is still visible near the building.
Right behind this well is the Soccorso or emergency gateway. This is a long and narrow staircase which goes down to the outside base of the castle, where some human skeletons were found in a recess discovered in 1838.
The ornithological collection on display in the castle was created by the ornithologist Gustavo Adolfo Carlotto in the early twentieth century and purchased by the Town Hall of Lonato del Garda in 1979.
The seven hundred exemplars almost completely represent the Italian birdlife and their extremely good state of conservation is due to the intervention of Marco Gianese, a famous taxidermist, who dedicated himself to embalming them.
The exemplars on display are grouped into twelve showcases, according to the environment they belong to: woods, mountain, high mountain, Mediterranean environment, humid salty environment, rural areas, urban areas, migratory birds of Lake Garda.
Some showcases in the museum combine examples with particular features, rarity or exemplars of species which are now completely died out.