The Boncompagni Viscogliosi Castle on Isola del Liri, in the province of Frosinone, has survived the passage of time thanks to the insight of a mechanical engineer, Angelo Viscogliosi.
In 1924, Viscogliosi was able to see the castle’s original beauty despite all the machinery that had been occupying its splendid halls since the mid-1800s. There were machines for weaving, spinning, and for dying wool – a productive factory that could easily embody Théophile Gautier’s incontrovertible dictum: «Nothing is really beautiful unless it is useless, everything useful is ugly».
The castle, a national monument, rises on the travertine spur that splits the Liri river into two 27-meter-tall waterfalls – the only ones in the world that drop into a residential area.
A property of the Della Rovere family until 1579, the complex was acquired in that year, with the whole Duchy of Sora, by Pope Gregory XIII Boncompagni. His descendants added beauty and colors to the mansion over the years, with works of art such as the Grand Hall’s frescoes – by some of the same masters who worked for Pope Sixtus V – and the stucco high reliefs in the Hall “of the 18 countries”.
Then there was decadence. And then, finally, a new birth, thanks to an enlightened mechanical engineer.