CastelloSan Salvatore, symbol of the centuries-old Collalto history
While there is no incontrovertible documentation that the first count of Collalto was in fact baptised, as tradition would have it, as far back as 150 AD by St. Prosdocimus, there are no such doubts concerning the Collalto family’s Lombard origins and its rule over the city of Treviso. In fact, the family appears in a license dating to 958, with which Berengarius II, King of Italy, granted to his son-in-law, Rambaldo I, Count of Treviso, the Corte (Court) of Lovadina “with all of its fields, pastures, woods, and vineyards,” according to the text of this precious historical document. Another document, dating to 971, refers to Rambaldo I as “Conte di Treviso,” a title and role that became hereditary, since the Collalto family functioned as imperial representatives and exercised financial and judicial power in Treviso. In the 12th century, the family enlarged and consolidated its vast feudal holding over the area of the river Piave. In 1110, Count Ensedesio I erected the castle in Collalto, from which the family some centuries later took the definitive form of its name. Rambaldo VIII initiated the fortification of the Castello di San Salvatore, in the latter half of the 13th century, while his son, Schenella V, enlarged the Castello until it had become one of the largest in Italy, covering 32,000 square metres. A double circuit of walls enclosed the borgo, or hamlet, the fortress proper, the counts palaces, and numerous churches and chapels.
As allies of the “Repubblica Serenissima” of Venice since 1306, the counts of Collalto enjoyed full administrative powers over their own lands. As early as the Middle Ages, they had focused efforts on grape growing, experimentation with new grape varieties, and producing fine-quality wines. Through this period, the castles of Collalto and San Salvatore remained impregnable, even against the horrendous attacks during the Hungarians invasion in the early 15th century.
The 16th century ushered in a period of tranquility that lasted more than three centuries. During the long “Pax Venetiana,” which was not interrupted until the French invasion in 1797, the Castello di San Salvatore enjoyed a remarkable floruit. It was embellished and decorated, thanks to the presence of a wide range of artists, such as Pordenone, Schiavone, and Cima da Conegliano, and its now-gentler character drew artists, poets, authors, and musicians, who found in its walls inspiration for their works.
The entire local area flourished during the 19th century, as did the Castello di San Salvatore. The Collalto family further enlarged its land holdings, and introduced new cultivation practices and experimental methods, while the castle and the entire hamlet became the focus of renewed agricultural activity. There was even a winery.
Ox-drawn carts delivered the grapes that were transformed into wine, which was then stored in the cellar.
The beginning of the 20th century was marked by the destruction wreaked by World War I. The river Piave became the main theatre for some of the most savage battles of the entire war. The Castello di San Salvatore was occupied by force by the Austrian army and later heavily bombarded by Italian artillery.
Largely destroyed, the Castello presented a scene of utter desolation, with only one section of its once-magnificent bastions remaining intact. The once numerous churches were reduced to rubble; the great tower, the borgo, and the circuit walls of the Castello were dust.
Count Rambaldo di Collalto revived the estate’s agricultural and industrial activities, inspired by modern business methods and practices, rebuilding the hundreds of farmhouses that had been destroyed and launching the reconstruction and restoration of the Castello. His grandson, Prince Manfredo di Collalto, passionately continued these efforts, and in 2003 completed the restoration of the Palazzo Odoardo, the heart of Castello San Salvatore, which once again enjoyed its ancient splendour.
The Azienda Agricola Conte Collalto adopted a stylized profile of Castello San Salvatore as the logo that today distinguishes its wines. Prince Manfredo di Collalto willed the Castello to his first male grandson, Prince Emmanuel de Croÿ Collalto, Isabella’s son.