The Palazzo dei Capitani is an elegant building in Gothic and Venetian style located in the center of Malcesine, overlooking Lake Garda.

The first building was built by the Scaligeri, between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, on top of the remains of an ancient Roman castle.

In the 14th century, it is not known whether due to a natural catastrophic event or a structural problem, the building was heavily damaged and its ownership was taken over by Francesco Mercanti from Verona.

The building remained in the hands of the Mercanti family until 18 December 1473 when Francesco's son sold the property to Alessandro Miniscalchi, with whom the first owners had contracted a debt.

It is precisely Miniscalchi who took care of the renovation works of the building which, from the deeds of sale of 1477, seems to be already in the Venetian style and pompously adorned, while maintaining the initial form unchanged.

In 1618 the municipality of Verona was invited by the Serenissima Republic of Venice to buy the residence from the Miniscalchi family, so that it could be made available to the Captain of the Lake.

The Captain of the Lake - a figure who has always been entrusted with the custody of the entire lake - also helped the Federation of Garda Waters to counter the illegal traffic of cereals and goods from both Venice and the port cities.

On March 20, 1854 the municipality of Verona ceded the building, initially rented, to the municipality of Malcesine, to then sell it in 1897 and allow the establishment of municipal offices.

In 1754 Palazzo dei Capitani was damaged by a violent disturbance and restored by the architect Adriano Cristofali; undergoes further alterations, first of all on the roof and on the top floor, also in 1987. In 2007, thanks to the contribution of the Veneto Region and the Veneto Ville Regional Institute, the renovation works of the first floor and the ground floor were started, designed by the architect Libero Cecchini.

In 1902 Palazzo dei Capitani was declared a national monument of Malcesine.

The building consists of: the ground floor and the garden by the lake open to the public, the first floor - noble floor - which can only be accessed during exhibitions and conferences and finally the second floor, now used as a library.

Free access on the ground floor introduces the visitor into a large room in whose ceiling there is a fresco showing: the emblems of the Gardesana dell'Acqua (the Rocca di Malcesine and the lion of San Marco), the coat of arms of Verona and that of the Captain of the Lake Lodovico Giusti. A plaque written in Latin celebrates Captain Domenico Becelli who safeguarded Malcesine during the war of the Spanish succession in the early 18th century. At one time, the rooms on either side of the main hall served as guardian, secretary, as well as warehouses and stables.

Crossing completely the central room, you enter the garden characterized by flower beds with green plants; a stone parapet allows a view of remarkable beauty which, on clear days, reveals the Brescia shore of the lake.

The large hall on the main floor is characterized by Venetian-style windows with a balcony facing the lake and a coffered ceiling adorned with the coats of arms of the Miniscalchi and Lodron families (dynasty related to the Miniscalchi); under the truss, there is a cornice with masks, cherubs, sea horses and birds.

A plaque recalls that: "The city of Verona in 1618 bought and assigned this building to the Captains of Lake Benaco" while an access on the north side leads to the antechamber where the Captain once held audiences; finally, there was a private chapel dedicated to San Zenone.

The second and last floor represented the spaces reserved for the servants and the chaplain, now home to the town library.

The facade of the building facing the lake has three decorative elements: a plaque that is no longer legible, a noble coat of arms and the sign of a fresco torn from the wall that reproduces the lion of St. Mark.


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