Talking to my friends, who are passionate about exhibitions, events and food, I find out that between November and December the Castle of Limatola is hosting the traditional Christmas markets. We decide to go there to buy original presents.
We leave in the early afternoon. Once we’ve passed Castel Morrone, we begin to see the castle of Limatola on a hill in the distance. It’s beautiful, it looks like a fairy tale castle. When we arrive at our destination, we park our car and start walking. We need to go uphill on a road to reach the top, but we are too excited to notice it!
It’s the first time I’ve seen a Christmas market! The stands mostly show handcrafted products: jewellery, yarn, liqueurs, etc. My friend stops at a stand displaying lace and threads because, apparently, threads are her new whim! There are centrepieces and lace everywhere and she’s eager to know how to make the herringbone pattern! I regret not having left her at the Cake Fest of San Leucio to knead biscuits with the master pastry chef! Luckily, the lady of the stand is busy with other customers and we can pass by.
The inner courtyard is mainly dedicated to jewellery. There are many copper bracelets and rings but also stones, like the green opal or the yellow amber. These creations with their unusual shapes would be very original presents!
Walking among the jewellery stands, I see objects I’d already noticed at the Cake Fest of San Leucio: pendants and earrings in a polymer clay. This artificial clay can be easily molded to create small objects. Polymer clay doesn’t dry if it comes in contact with air, but it can be hardened in the oven at 110°C for 30 minutes. The latest trend is modeling the clay into the shape of pastries, cupcakes and biscuits. I absolutely must have a pendant in the shape of Pan di Stelle!
Suddenly my friend – who’s disappointed by the absence of knitting classes– casts a glance at a sort of mechanical nativity scene, but without shepherds. This is the latest fashion of the moment: miniature landscapes with houses and snow-covered trees, accompanied by trains, panoramic ferris wheels and ice skaters that move with music. My friend tries to persuade her husband to buy one for her, but she doesn’t manage to convince him!
The atmosphere of the castle is magical, the organisers have taken care of all the details. Shopping is even more enjoyable thanks to the musical background and snowflakes. Obviously, we’re talking about artificial snow, but seeing it fall while the song “Hallelujah” plays in the background is impressive!
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this: the forth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The Baffled king composing Hallelujah
It’s almost dinner time and we decide to walk to the food and wine stands. The food festival season has not ended yet, so it’s easy to find products like chestnuts, mushrooms, preserves, sausages and chocolate. There’s a stand that sells little bottles of liqueur, I buy a violin shaped one filled with white chocolate liqueur!
We sit down in a cabin that has been assembled for the occasion and we order bresaola, fondue and mulled wine. Two friends of mine don’t drink and the third one usually keeps red wine in the fridge. I am surrounded by amateurs!
Before leaving the castle, I write my wish on a card and I hang it on the Christmas tree, that’s been decorated with thousands of cards filled with desires.
A Christmas market inside the castle walls is a great idea, but the building is worth a visit in summer as well.
Indeed, the castle houses a hotel of eleven rooms decorated in vintage style, conference rooms and a restaurant called “Le Scuderie” referring to the original destination of the stables. The dining rooms “Mangiatoie” and “De Tucziaco” can accomodate up to 35 – 45 people. “Le Scuderie” is the ideal place for informal lunches. For ceremonies and weddings it’s possible to book a castle room, for example the “Gothic Rooms” – restored by Margherita De Tucziaco at the end of the thirteenth century – or the “High Court”. Inside the castle, people can also get married in a traditional, religious ceremony or civil. The Garibaldi Museum houses a collection of illustrations and reproductions related to the battle of the Volturno in 1860, won by Garibaldi’s army.
The castle can be visited also by groups of students, who can learn its history through guided tours. It was built by the Normans on the ruins of an ancient Lombard tower. It has a strategic position in the highest part of the old town. During the Renaissance, it kept its defensive characteristics even if it became an exclusive mansion. It is surrounded by crenellated walls and towers. In some places the walls have protruding cordons that prevented the attackers from climbing. Every four metres there are bows that were used to throw arrows, boiling oil and melted metal onto enemies. The garden surrounding the castle used to have citrus and olive trees.
Nowadays, it preserves ceramic fragments from the Middle Ages. The castle was also equipped with a system that collected and filtered rainwater, allowing huge quantities of water to be accumulated inside a tank so there was never a shortage during the long periods of siege.
The Castle of Limatola, with its restaurants, its museum, its history and its Christmas markets is definitely worth a visit. If you’re lucky enough to be in Limatola between November and December, I suggest that you write your wish and hang it on the Christmas tree. The wishes that decorate the Christmas tree of the castle are said to come true!
Useful information about visiting the Christmas Markets:
Mon-Sun: 10.00 a.m – 11.00 p.m.
Costs of the ticket:
Friday, November 9th: 10 € with either vin brulé or juice included
Entrance is free for children under 10 (with proof of I.D. and disabled with valid card)
Every 5th person is free for large groups of 50 or more people
From Monday through Friday, groups between 10 and 50 people, ticket is 10€ and includes a meal from one of the participating food stalls.
For more information contact Paolo Cazzulo 324.9521733 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets can be purchased at the entrance, online, or at authorized ticket offices.
Copyright text and photos: Anna Visconti