Medieval Castles of Lesa

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How to get

By car: from the SS33 highway, exit at Lesa.
By train: railway station in Lesa.


The picturesque little town of Lesa is set in a delightful landscape of hills, vineyards, orchards and meadows looking onto the blue waters of Lake Maggiore. Lesa possesses two ancient fortified buildings dating from the time when the town played a major part in the political and economic life of the Vergante area, of which it was elected to be the capital at the beginning of the 13th century. 

The two castles are the “Castellaccio”, built on the lake shore as a customs house and later partially destroyed by a lake flood, and the “Old Castle” in the town centre. The ruins of the “Castellaccio” (also called “the Nuns’ Castle”) include parts of a square- plan outer wall, some internal walls, a corner turret and a doorway facing towards the beach. Of the “Old Castle” you can still see a scarp wall with exposed blocks of stone, a walled-up medieval window, a doorway with a gabled architrave and the remains of another doorway, walled up below a niche ornamented with a fresco of the Virgin Mary.

Another historical attraction in Lesa is the building in Via Pizzi known as the “Isola del Pretorio”, once the residence of the Pretorio or Podestà, an official appointed by the Borromeos to administer justice in the Vergante district.