At the centre of Lake Como, on the mountain overlooking Varenna, there is Vezio Castle, here for more than a thousand years. It is an ancient military outpost of early medieval origin built by the Lombard Queen Theodelinda to defend and control the lake and surrounding villages. The castle is situated in a militarily and commercially strategic location which dominates all centre of Como Lake, and this is the reason why it has been inhabited since the Iron Age. It was associated in the past with Varenna city and connected to it by two long walls that surrounded it up to the shore of the lake, protecting the village and its people during the frequent wars and looting that shook this area during all the Middle Ages. Partially restored in the mid-twentieth century, the castle today includes a lookout tower with a square base, accessible through a small drawbridge and visitable up to the summit, surrounded by quadrangular walls with partial angular tower. Another curiosity of this place is that the castle is surrounded by one of northernmost olive groves in the world, thanks to the effects of temperature of the lake’s waters. In the tower there is also a permanent exhibition about Lariosaurus, a prehistoric extinct sea reptile from the Middle Triassic period, which takes its name from the lake after its discover in Perledo (a few hundred meters from the Castle) in 1830. The Castle also had dungeons built during the First World War, as part of the defensive linea Cadorna planned by General Luigi Cadorna, Chief of Staff of the Italian army, to halt any German invasion southward from Switzerland. Now there are a beautiful garden, and a group of birds of prey, raised by a local falconer.
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