The Mystery of Villa L. Da Porto in Montorso Vicentino

The Mystery of Villa L. Da Porto in Montorso Vicentino

Called “the Montursium” in ancient times, the toponym derives either from “mount”, from its Roman name “Ursius”, or from the name of the noble Orso (belonging to the ancient family of Trissino), who had probably built the castle of Fratta hill – now the cemetery. This is, therefore, the origin of the name “Castrum Montis Ursi” from which the actual Montorso came.

Montorso Vicentino is a town in the province of Vicenza, Veneto, Italy.
Photo by Claudio Calderato

In this quaint little town, you will find the splendid Villa Da Porto-Barbaran. The construction of the Palladian style villa started in 1662 and finished in 1724. In its early days, it boasted a large collection of paintings, antique furniture, and a beautiful garden full of magnificent sculptures. Very little is left from the former grandeur.

Near the villa you can still see a tower and colonnade that date back to the 16th century, when there stood another abode, that of Luigi Da Porto.

Who is Luigi da Porto?

Luigi da Porto (1485 – 1529) was an Italian soldier, poet, and a writer born in Vicenza. He was severely wounded in battle, forcing him to end his stint in the military and retire in Montorso Vicentino.

Villa Da Porto in Montorso is where Luigi penned the love story that becomes known as Historia novellamente ritrovata di due nobili amanti (“Newly found story of two noble lovers”), the first unpublished version of the story of Romeo and Juliet, a story later revised and transformed by William Shakespeare. It is said that Luigi’s inspiration for this writing was a love that he lost with a young 16-year-old girl, Lucina Sarvognan. Her marriage to someone else was so devastating, some believe it was this experience that led him to write heartbreaking love stories and poetry.

Historia novellamente ritrovata di due nobili amanti is the tale of the two lovers in Verona in 1300, Giulietta of the House of Capulets and Romeo of the House of Montecchio, and the bitter hatred between their two families. “The play itself is an imagined story, but references and the context of the plot mirror the climate of the time. Everything was imagined by Da Porto and then taken up again by the English bard who would transform the novel…”

Luigi’s villa lies on the plain with a view towards the east where the two castles in Montecchio Maggiore are located. You can read more about visiting the Romeo and Juliet castles and the history here. In Verona, it’s important to note that Juliet’s House attracts crowds of tourists despite the fact that it has nothing to do with the Shakespeare’s heroine.

Mystery Surrounding the Villa

In 1529, Luigi died a strange death, the cause of which, to this day, remains a mystery. There is another important fact for the mystery connected with this location: the history of the chapel of Santa Maria Maddalena, which was very dear to Luigi, was only a hundred steps away from the Da Porto Villa. It was demolished by a private individual – a demolition so significant that, according to a local historian, it would have the deceased Da Porto sent on a rage! In this regard, you can read the entire story by Candido Lucato here (Italian text).

The mystery surrounding Villa L. Da Porto is what the locals call “the Ghost of Da Porto”. It seems that the villa is still inhabited by the ghost of Luigi Da Porto. The reasons are still debated today.

Some say that Luigi is angry because Shakespeare stole his story of Romeo and Juliet, and he wants to be recognized as the true author of the story. There have been numerous reports of sightings of his Ghost, according to the people of Montorso and of Villa Da Porto. “Rumors” that have come about from the photos captured by a local photographer, Mrs. Mirella Pieropan, inside the Villa or on March 7th, 2015 in Via Marconi, close to the original location of the Holy Mary Chapel.

Naturally, she guarantees that there was no smoke in the moment that she captured this images, nor was any editing performed to the photo. What did she capture then? Do you see Luigi da Porto and his horse too?

If you want to get to the real roots of the famous love story and pay homage to the writer who created Romeo and Juliet first (and we should say Romeo and Giulietta), step off the beaten track and head to the town of Montorso Vicentino.

About Summer Rae

Ciao! I packed my life up and moved across the sea to Italy in November of 2017. I am an adrenaline junkie and a lover of all things travel, food, and wine! Living in Europe provides a great opportunity to grow my writing and blog - Outside This Small Town. I hope that you enjoy reading my posts. “Wander often. Wonder Always.”



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