HISTORY OF THE CASTLE
Among the thirteen villages belonging to Perledo's municipality, the hamlet of Vezio is one of the most interesting under tourist and historical point of view. It is a small group of stony houses and it has about fifty inhabitants, that is twenty families. It has kept its ancient features, and it hides a very long past among the restored buildings in the center. Vezio's inhabitants were probably a Ligurian–Celtic, perhaps even Etruscan, settlement, which was fought during the transmigrations by Transalpine populations from the VI to the II century b.D. Their arrival and the following raids obliged the natives to submit to them or to move to less hospitable areas, such as the valleys in the foothills of the Alps.
This subject is told by Plinio, according to Catone's evidence, and by Polibio in his commentaries about Galli's invasion: they were then driven out in 196 b.D. by Roman legions belonging to Claudio Marcello together with orobic, insubr and cenoman allies and they were forced to go back to the village of origin or to flee to those few villages under the Alps, where Celtic communities already flourished, passed from nomadism to woodland-farm-pastoral activity.
In our territory, for instance, there were Ligurian settlements, with superimposing of Celtic groups in the superior part and Roman element in the inferior part. These fortified San Vittore promontory as a cornerstone of their presence. Therefore Vezio can be said very ancient.
Someone tells its name comes from the Latin “pagus vetus”, that means “old, ancient, preexistent, antecedent village or group of houses”. Others refer to the dialectal denomination “Vesc” and they tell that it comes from “Vescia”, small village in Lazio that is Sant'Agata dei Goti today, village of origin of Vescinus, Roman legionary belonging to the V Legion, who had got the control and management of works for the building of the “castrum” of Vezio.
When Romans extended their sway in Lombardy, they had to check the incursions of Alpine populations, who were definitively subdued by Ottaviano in the year 27 b.D. They created a big road net and rendered the most important passes more practicable, in order to facilitate the passage of armed forces and supplies. That determined an atmosphere of collaboration with the communities belonging to the subjugated areas and created well-being and quietness, which led to the Romanization of the territories and to the instauration of the so called “Gallic-roman civilization”.
The defense of the lines of communication was given to the Gallic federations, and the menace of Barbers favored the building of barrage works. Even the Eastern territory of the lake of Como was involved, as there were very important roads: Retica Valtellinese, Relica Chiavennesca, Val Varrone and della Riviera. The latter led from Lecco to Colico through Mandello, Lierna, and after the Ortanella Pass, went down to Vezio and then kept going for Regolo and Gittana, before arriving in Bellano.
The road of Val Varrone was called "the Iron way", because it allowed the transport of steel and iron products in the area, where there were well-known smithies and mines. Some slaves controlled by Roman militaries worked in these places.
Premana was the industrial capital, in those days and nowadays. A fortification was erected in Vezio; it facilitated the control over the way of Riviera and the shores of the lake below; in the meantime Varenna was erected on the promontory, as berth of the main business and military shipway of the area. Vezio's boundaries probably extended from Foppa to the sheer spur where the castle stands. The houses and the stores rose within the boundaries, whose imposing and perfect foundations can be seen today in several wineries of the historical center. The find of arms and human rests of different ages and origins shows that it was theater of bloody and cruel fights. The most important finds are in the museums of Como, Sondrio, Lecco and Esino.
Some tombs dating back to the Iron Age came to light in 1891, and triangular points of arrows in iron surfaced in 1955-56 during the restoration works of the castle by the family Greppi, current owner. The tower presents a square battlement identical to the one of the castle of Cly in Valle d'Aosta. According to dr. Bodo Abcard, an expert on the subject, it is one of the most typical exemplars of its kind.
Nothing is known about Vezio and its vicissitudes from the invasion of Barbars to the assertion of Longobards and then Francs. It had to take part to the terrible events of those days.
The fortress probably followed the destiny of Varenna, as it was jointed by walls that went down to the lake to defend the village. Legend told by Anton Gioseffo Della Torre in his book "Larius" provides for the lack of information concerning that period. He tells that the famous Teodolinda, queen of Longobards, who spent her last years in Perledo, ordered the construction of San Martino Church with the ancient bell tower and the castle of Vezio with the oratory of Saint Antonio, in order to leave visible marks of her faith in the Christianity.
Several villages claim this tradition in Lombardy; however we have to consider that Longobard order needed the best military defenses. In Vezio there was lots of interest in the reconstruction of the castle after unclear events. The structure, as it is nowadays, presents building features dating back to the Middle ages. Every village was surrounded by strong walls, and the castles and towers placed on promontories had a sighting function or they served as obliged points for tollages.
The unidentified Cumano doesn't nominate the castle of Vezio in his commentaries concerning the ten-year-war (1118-1127) between Milan and Como because of the bishop's election in the town; however, it doesn't mean that the castle didn't exist before. When the armed forces tried to enter Varenna from the lake, they found no castles but strong walls and good defenders.
The castle was not involved even in 1244, when Varenna rose and was thus destroyed by Como's inhabitants for the first time. The population found shelter in the castle that was inexpugnable thanks to its position. The inhabitants of Varenna invigorated their mind and their force, in order to rise again four years later during Como opposition. Varenna was laid waste, but the castle resisted on this occasion, too.
Vezio saw the rule of Visconti and Torriani, the dominations of French and Spanish people; it suffered the decrees of Bergamo's and Veneto's sirs. It became a bishop's feud with Varenna, then it passed to Dal Verme and others, until the earl Francesco Sfondrati and his heirs were invested with it. The investiture of the building passed in 1631 to Giovanni Antonio de' Tarelli, and the hire passed twenty-five years later to Antonio Tarelli. The castle was even rebuilt in this period: this is gathered by two inscriptions, dictated by the poet Perlaschino, whose ashes are in Riva di Gittana, in Perledo's territory.
As for the family Tarelli, it is important to point out that they were decimated by the plague that raged between November 1629 and March 1630.
The last descendant of this family died in recent times (1959). In Vezio's cemetery there is her memorial tablet. In 1647 Perledo and Varenna's territories were invested in Valtellina's feud belonging to the earl Giulio Monti.
In 1778 Varenna's infeudation passed to family Serbelloni, whose kinswoman, Crivelli Serbelloni, kept possession of Vezio's tower until the XIX century.