Private Group Guided Tour to Bracciano & Odescalchi Castle
Lunch is not included. Please plan to bring local currency to buy your meal and snacks.
Tour Participation Requirements
Special Medical Restriction
Thanks to its lake and countryside views, intimidating fortifications, and lavish accommodations, Odescalchi Castle is a popular location for celebrity weddings, including that of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in 2006. The high-profile unions go back centuries, including the 1558 nuptials of a Renaissance power couple – a match that, like TomKat's, turned into something less than wedded bliss.
Her name was Isabella; she was 16, beautiful, talented, and vivacious. His name was Paolo; he was 17, rather plain, somewhat ill-mannered, and definitely ill-tempered. She was a Medici, he was an Orsini – two of the most powerful families in Italy. The marriage was a strategic alliance that had been arranged five years earlier.
The run-up to the storybook wedding included redecorating the Papal Hall, so named because it hosted Pope Sixtus IV, when he fled Rome's 1481 plague outbreak. Brothers and master painters Taddeo and Federico Zuccari were commissioned to create ceiling frescos featuring the distinguished natal charts and coats of arms of the two noble families.
The evening was magical – a lavish extravaganza with the best food, wine, music, and merriment. In the morning, Paolo left for his home in Rome; Isabella left for her home in Florence. They lived happily and separately ever after until 1576, 18 years after the wedding of the century, when Paolo joined Isabella in her family's villa. She was found dead the next morning – the victim, according to her brother, of a fatal episode of washing her hair. The more likely explanation was that Paolo strangled her as a favor to the brother, payback for her extramarital liaisons, or so he could marry someone else. Possibly all three.
But don't let TomKat's and PaoloBella's unhappy endings lead you to imagine some kind of Odescalchi Castle couples curse. Many marriages that began there have been long and fulfilling, with bride and groom returning years later for second honeymoons. Wedding and reception packages start at about $17,000; inquire within.
The Odescalchi family bought the Bracciano castle from the Orsinis at an auction in 1696. In 1804, it was plundered by French invaders, and the Odescalchis were forced to sell it to the prince of Torlonia, who fixed up the place but wasn't terribly attached to it. In 1844, an Odescalchi married an heiress and was able to repurchase the castle. The Odescalchis got their castle back, and the prince made a tidy little profit.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.