A romantic view of the Middle Ages from Castel Roncolo
When 19th-century artists started to long for an escape from the time and place they had to live in, they found refuge in an idealized exotic and folkloristic version of the Middle Ages where Castel Roncolo (also known as Runkelstein Castle), in Alto Adige, could play the part of the perfect, romantic “locus amoenus”.
Today the castle – built starting in 1237, according to the most reliable sources – still stands on its volcanic cliff, faithful to its medieval profile despite the past centuries’ many renovations and restorations.
Most importantly, it has protected the largest and best-preserved cycle of non-religious frescoes from the Middle Ages.
We can only imagine how the sight of these works of art thrilled the poets of the Romantic period. Outside the Summer House, the “group of the Triads” (painted in 1393) features three of King Arthur’s Round Table knights: Percival, Gawain, and Ywain. The Arthurian table is also depicted inside the Summer House, in the so-called “room of Garel”, while hunting and tournament scenes – painted in 1388 by artists of the Veronese school – decorate the Western Palace.
It was, and still is, a medieval dream come true.