A real leap into the past, in a fairytale atmosphere among castles, vineyards and forests.
(by Hubert Berberich, CC BY 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)
Wherever you lay your eye, it was once the territory of the Counts of Eppan (German: Grafen von Eppan), descendants of the ancient Guelphs.
Guelphs and Ghibellines were the two opposing factions in Italian politics in the late Middle Ages, particularly from the 12th century until the birth of the Signories in the 14th century. The ‘Welfen’, hence the word ‘Guelfo’, were the supporters of the Bavarians and Saxons and belonged to one of the oldest and most illustrious Frankish blood dynasties in Europe.
Historically, the Guelphs were later associated with those who supported the Pope, and their fortresses were characterised by square battlements. On their flag was drawn the cross of St George.
Waiblingen, formerly Wibeling, hence the term ‘Ghibelline’, identified the supporters of the Hohenstaufen, Swabian lords of Waiblingen Castle.
Later, the Swabian house acquired the imperial crown and, with Frederick Barbarossa, sought to consolidate its power in the Kingdom of Italy.
Politically, the Ghibellines began to identify themselves with the faction linked to the emperor and their military structures were characterised by swallow-tailed battlements. Their flag depicted the cross of St John the Baptist.
From around the mid-12th century, the Counts of Appiano had their seat in Castel d’Appiano, making it their strategic and military base for controlling their territories. However, due to hereditary disputes, they got into property disputes with the Counts of Tyrol, of Bavarian origin. The latter, in fact, claimed the county of Bolzano from the Appian family, triggering a bloody conflict that the Tyroleans won in 1170.
Today, Trentino is full of castles in memory of these past times. The two decades between 1220 and 1240 are, in fact, considered the golden age of castle building in South Tyrol.
We now embark on a climb through the forest to discover their castle. In a short time, we leave behind us a significant climb and finally reach the Tower known as the ‘Kreideturm’.