Now in the municipality of Cervignano del Friuli, Udine, the monumental complex of the Castle of Strassoldo di Sopra – once connected to the so-called “di Sotto” fortress below, which later had its own independent development – belonged to a family whose lives intertwined with the history of Friuli, Italy and Europe. The Strassoldos were a pugnacious people, whose roots may go as far back as the 8th-9th century (as there are records of their relations with Pepin the Short and Charlemagne) or even the 5th century: some say their progenitor fought with Roman emperor Valentinian III against Attila the Hun, in 448 AD.
Whatever their origins, we know for sure their story became dense with international alliances and battles since the 1300s and throughout medieval and modern history, until the 1900s.
Observing their castle, Trieste-born Risorgimento patriot and author Giuseppe Caprin noted:
“The family’s vicissitudes come back to life looking at the rusty and peeling walls; they connected their name to the legends of the Huns, and had their sons carry an unsheathed swords for centuries […]. Today, the slightest rustle from the surrounding woods might make you think the warriors have resurrected, locked into their steel shells, on horses covered in metal scales, as slow and heavy as trebuchets; you can almost seem those feoffees come to the castle after obtaining their investiture, waving a red flag to signify personal freedom” (translated from G. Caprin, “Pianure friulane”, Trieste 1892).
Let’s go inside this beautiful, mysterious and ancient fort.