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  • Malcésine, Scaliger Castle

    August 2002

    Extract of Goethe's diary of September 14th, 1786:

    „As I had planned, early in the morning I walked to the old castle, which, since it is without gates, locks or sentries, is accessible to anyone. I sat down in the courtyard facing the old tower, which is built upon and into the rock. I had found an ideal spot for drawing .... I had not been sitting there long before several persons entered the courtyard, looked me over and walked up and down. Quite a crowd gathered. Then they came to a stop and I found myself surrounded. I realized that my drawing had created a sensation, but I did not let this disturb me and went calmly on with my work. At last a somewhat unprepossessing-looking man pushed himself forward, came up close to me and asked what I was doing there. I replied that I was drawing the old tower so as to have a memento of Malcésine. This was not allowed, he said, and I must stop at once. Since he spoke in Venetian dialect which I hardly understand, I retorted that I didn't know what he was saying. At this, with typical Italian nonchalance he tore the page up, though he left it on the pad ...“
    The castle of the Scaliger can be reached easily on one´s own, if you direct yourself from the town centre northwards and steadily go uphill. The castle dates back to the 13th century.

    Malcésine is part of the province of Verona. After the Veronese League had fought since 1162 successfully against Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, Verona became the cultural centre of Northern Italy. From 1262 - 1387 the Scaliger were reigning who also made build the castle in Malcésine.

    In one of the castle´s rooms you´ll find reproductions of Goethe´s drawings on exhibition. The then 37-year-old from Frankfurt was travelling as a German painter under the alias of „Filippo Miller“. From Munich it had taken him five days to get here by stagecoach in september 1786. Due to his drawings of the castle he almost got arrested as an Austrian spy.

    After all the Austrian spy-matter is not quintessentially absurd, as 11 years later the provinces of Verona and Venice actually got under Austrian rule, until Verona became part of the newly established Italian kingdom in 1866.

    One has a real good view onto the lake and the Monte Baldo if one climbs up the 114 stairs of the thirty metre high tower.

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