With over 500 years of history, the castle dominates the beautiful town of Bracciano and its magnificent lake. Begun by Napoleone Orsini around 1475 as an expansion of the Rocca dei Vico, it was completed by his son Gentil Virginio at the end of the 15th century as the fortress of one of the most powerful families of the Renaissance. In this phase the edifice, built simultaneously with the Sistine Chapel (probably by the same architect, Giovannino de Dolci), was decorated by Antoniazzo Romano with possible contributions by Antonio del Pollaiuolo and Francesco di Giorgio Martini. The building was transformed by Paolo Giordano Orsini when he married Isabella de Medici and Bracciano became the capital of a duchy in 1560. The first duke called the best architects and painters of the second half of the 16th century (Giacomo del Duca, Taddeo and Federico Zuccari) transforming the military fortress into a palace worthy to give hospitality to the daughter of Cosimo de Medici. With the extinction of the Orsini family in 1696, the entire possession was acquired by Livio Odescalchi, nephew of pope Innocent XI. At the end of the 19th century with the restoration by Baldassarre Odescalchi, masterfully carried out by Raffaello Ojetti, the castle assumed the form and function of today. It is a museum open to the public, still owned by the Odescalchi family, with not only a perfectly preserved military and courtly architecture, but also a monumental private residence on two floors with unique cycle of frescos, paintings, sculptures and original furniture of the Renaissance.
The Castle of Bracciano is located about 35 km north of Rome. It is easily reachable by car (through the Braccianese or Cassia bis), by train (see Trenitalia from Tiburtina, Ostiense, Trastevere, San Pietro, Valle Aurelia and many other stations), by bus (see Cotral from Saxa Rubra, Cornelia and Cipro).