A walk through time

A spectacular view

The view from the summit of the hills of Tremona-Castello is, on a clear day, spectacular: you can see from Baradello Castle in Como to Varese, across the heart of Seprio, right to the new skyscrapers of Milan. A strategic position that in ancient times made it possible to control and monitor the major routes and which could mean the difference between freedom and subjugation, life and death for entire communities. This is why the hill of Tremona was occupied continuously for six thousand years, from prehistory to the end of the 14th century.

The fortification system

It was not just the hill that was important: the whole region was extremely important, especially for military reasons. From the third century AD, when Milan became one of the capitals of the empire, Rome controlled the routes between the Po valley and the regions beyond the Alps, where there was a vast system of fortifications that also served as a tax and customs border. The system of defensive fortresses created by the empire operated on three levels: the cities of the Po valley, which housed large garrisons of troops; towns in the foothills of the Alps; and the fortifications that run the length of the Alps in Piedmont, an area also rich in signal towers. These are not impenetrable strongholds but barriers designed to slow down advancing enemies.

The “castle” of Tremona

When we talk about a castrum or “castle” at Tremona, we are not talking about a castle with defensive walls, towers and a moat. This type of building appeared only in late medieval times and in the periods that followed. Up until the 12th century, castra or “castles” were structures built primarily of wood, and actually provided little protection against outside attack. Only from the 12th century onwards did defensive walls and towers start to appear.

Documents and bibliography

Finally, on the website of the Association for Archaeological Research of Mendrisiotto (ARAM),
you can consult a bibliography of the studies and articles published to date on Tremona-Castello,
and a short summary of historic documents which mention the site.