In 1890, the young banker Gaetano Bonoris (1861-1923), having received the title of nobility from King Umberto I of Savoy, bought the remains of the ancient Rocca di Montichiari, which dominates the town from the San Pancrazio hill. The intention is to rebuild it to make it his own home and recreate a personal idea of the Middle Ages translated into a fairy-tale and imposing architecture, capable of making the romantic and neo-feudal dream of the new “Count of Montichiari” evident to all.
The reconstruction of the castle in neo-Gothic style was initially entrusted to the Brescian architect Antonio Tagliaferri, but after some disagreements it was completed by Bonoris himself with the help of a new designer, Carlo Melchiotti. Only in this second phase, perhaps to speed things up, was the Borgo and Rocca Medievali of Turin adopted as the ideal prototype, built in 1884 on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition, and reproducing in their entirety the most famous examples of 14th and 15th century Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta architecture, such as the castles of Fenis or Issogne.
The interest in these artistic models also involves the interiors of the Castle. Gaetano Bonoris therefore proceeded by hiring the same craftsmen, furniture makers and painters who a few years earlier had taken part in the construction of the medieval village of Turin. Giuseppe Rollini was therefore responsible for the rich painted decorations, made between 1897 and 1901, among which the chapel on the ground floor and the council room on the first floor stand out because of their high quality, the latter taken from the fifteenth-century one present in the Castle of Manta near Saluzzo. While for the furniture, carved as unique pieces, the Arboletti brothers of Turin were inspired by sixteenth-century models preserved in the museums of the Piedmontese capital. The area of the hill surrounding the castle was finally redesigned in 1901 by the project of Giuseppe Roda, a Turin landscape architect linked to the Savoy court, who created a three-hectare English park on the southern side of the Castle and a panoramic “secret” garden on the north side. After a few changes of ownership, the Bonoris Castle was purchased by the Municipality of Montichiari in 1996.
The catalog data of part of the interior furnishings and the preparatory watercolors for the decorations can be viewed from the web portal of the Rete dei Musei dell’800 lombardo by clicking on the link below:
Open from the end of March to October
Saturday and Sunday 10-12 and 14.30-18.30
Last guided tour 12 noon and 18.30
Wheelchair users only on the ground floor – reservation required
On other days of the week (from Monday to Friday) open on bookings:
+ 39 030 9650455
In case of strong wind, the opening will be postponed (due to danger of falling branches on the access route).
Extraordinary openings: Easter Monday, 25 April, 1 May, 2 June, 15 August.
Closed on Easter Sunday and in the months of December, January and February.
Booking required for groups of more than 10 people.
Piazza Santa Maria, 36
25018 Montichiari BS
Tel. +39 030 9650455
BECOME A PATRON OF THE CASTLE
WITH ART BONUS
Thanks to the Art Bonus scheme, you can contribute to the restoration of the castle by recovering 65% of the amount donated through tax credits.
The opportunity applies to both individuals and companies. Our staff will be at your disposal for all your questions.
BECOME A PATRON YOURSELF!
Gaetano Vittorio Napoleone Bonoris (Brescia, 21 January 1861 – Montichiari, 19 December 1923) was born into a rich bourgeois family of Mantuan origins. His father Achille was the owner of a thriving banking business while his mother, Marianna Soncini, of aristocratic origins, died a few years after giving birth to her son. In his early years, Gaetano carried out his studies in Switzerland, in Lausanne, but the death of his father brought him back to Brescia to take care of the substantial family property, because he was the only heir at the age of 25. During his life he continued his father’s business, doubling its value, but at the same time he distinguished himself in public charity so much that in 1922, shortly before his death, he established the “Gaetano Bonoris Foundation” to which he entrusted his entire property in order to support poor people, orphan and disabled children.
In 1890, on the occasion of the great military maneuvers carried out in the Brescia plain, Bonoris fulfilled his dream: he hosted King Umberto I of Savoy and obtained the noble title of count thanks to which he managed to launch one of the most expensive projects of his life, the purchase and reconstruction of the Castle of Montichiari. A non-casual choice since the place historically, until the twelfth century, had been the fulcrum of the vast feudal domain of the ancient Longhi counts, on which Bonoris through his mother’s family (Soncini) and his maternal grandmother’s family (Ugoni) boasted his noble lineage, which thus sealed the neo-feudal aspirations and the ideals of chivalry.
In 1900 he was elected to parliament for the Liberal Party. He then moved to Rome where he bought a property on the Parioli hill. He also maintained a palace in Mantua and an elegant residence on the Lungarno in Florence, while for his hunting passion he often went to the vast family estate, in San Zeno di Montagna, overlooking Lake Garda. He died without direct heirs in 1923 at the age of 62 in his castle, which was the only asset he left to his very young cousin Ercole Soncini. Among the provisions of the will he asked to destroy all his personal documents and papers and he wanted to be buried in an unnamed tomb in the cemetery of Montichiari.
Wedding Service in the Castle
From April till October the Bonoris Castle welcomes civil ceremonies and weddings.
The secret garden, intimately quiet and welcoming, thanks to the spectacular panoramic view will give you a fairytale atmosphere. The romantic park is about three hectares, with its centuries-old trees, and can host an aperitif, dinner or after dinner. A private guided tour in the fascinating rooms of the Castle will be available to your guests. The bride and groom will have the opportunity to carry out their photo shoot in the external and internal spaces of the Castle.