The Castle

Even if ascribed to Fredrick II, it is actually a Norman construction that later was expanded and strengthened by the Swabian emperor, to be then completed in the Angevin age. This is highlighted by the inside alternation of styles and variegated architectonical elements. From castrum to domus solaciorum Fredrick II knew that in this place the Byzantines had built a castrum to monitor the road link between Benevento and the Bradano valley. He knew also that, before him, the Normans had expanded the construction even if without making it into a defensive structure. Downline, in time, a village had formed, and this had made it a taxable property. Therefore, in the August of 1242 he went for the first time to Lagopesole, where he organized for the castrum to be changed into a domus solaciorum. He certainly returned in 1243 and in1246 to verify the work progress. Finally, he returned in 1250 few months before his death, and the domus was not completed yet. Love and war refuge The works were carried out by his son Manfredi who stayed there many times with his wife Elena Ducas, but it was the Angevins who finished the construction of the castle and turned it into a ‘royal’ shelter and a ‘luxurious’ prison: the beauty of the Lagopesole castle, indeed, was appreciated also by Carlo I d’Angiò, who attended it for long periods, providing it with a palatine chapel, an aqueduct, horses stables, and a sort of medieval ‘fish farm’: The Angevin king instructed that about ten thousand eels were carried in specific barrels and thrown in the small lake opposite the palace. The castle first passed on to the Caracciolos and then to the Dorias, and through the centuries it was abandoned and got deteriorated. In the nineteenth century it was refuge for bandits led by Carmine Crocco, who on April 7th 1861 occupied it with 400 of his gang men. A new life from the past The fortification became a state property in 1969 and is now the Forest Service office, and since 2000 it has held the Antiquarium, made with medieval material discovered during the excavates carried out in the little courtyard. A pink-stoned parallelepiped   The castle, located atop a hill in a strategic position, looks like a rectangular parallelepiped, with corner towers. The front shows, on the first floor, four double-and triple lancet windows built with local pink stone that contrasts with that of the yellow-grey curtains. Through the big decorated portal you gain access inside the “big yard” of the castle, from which you can also get in the smaller one, in the centre of which there is the well of the tank. The Emperor and Empress in Lucanian nature The most interesting part of the castle, located on the side of the great courtyard, is the one that gives access to the Angevin chapel and several residential rooms including those known as “of the Emperor” and “of the Empress”. In these halls the sculptures triumph, which, especially in the capitals and corbels, reproduce mulberry trees and oaks, grapes and figs, fluttering birds, bears and wild boars to hunt, as if they were an illustration of the beloved narrated by Frederick II in the De arte venandi cum avibus (LINK). There is no trace, however, of the deadly pitfalls debit from a local legend (LINK) – not the only one – to the perfidy of Frederick Barbarossa. The passage of salvation At the bottom of the “Hall of Armigeri” there is a door that led to an opening in the fortress. This is the so-called “emergency door” or “postern”, a small hidden entrance always open to allow messengers arrival with news – perhaps of imminent attacks -very quicly. In the castle there is also a “secret room”, so called because the entrance was hidden by a stairway that covered it. The great tower and the forest Unusual also is the presence in the center of the small courtyard of the solid square great tower, the donjon, the position of which would support the hypothesis of a pre-existing Norman age specifically for a military purpose. The medieval fort is surrounded by 23 hectares of land that make up the Anthropological and Natural State Reserve ‘Coste Castello’, established in 1972. The area includes bushy pastures, turkey oak woods, chestnut and herbaceous flowering species including the Apennine anemone, the snowdrop, the red lily and elder flowered orchid. Sources: “La via dei canti. Un itinerario di Federico II in Basilicata e Puglia”, Angelo Lucano Larotonda, 2007