The palace of Don Rodrigo, dominating the whole town of Lecco, is located on the Zucco in Olate.
The palace of Don Rodrigo, the landlord who exercised power on the land of The Betrothed, is traditionally identified with the villa located on the Zucco, the hill of Olate, a district of Lecco.
Alessandro Manzoni describes it while Fra Cristoforo went there to make Don Rodrigo desist from his evil intentions about Lucia: on the top of a hill, at whose feet “there was a cluster of decayed cottages inhabited by peasantry belonging to Don Roderick. This was the little capital of his little kingdom”. The climb to the Zucco is steep and winding, but once you reach the top you overlook Lecco.
In the seventeenth century the villa belonged to Arrigoni family of Introbio, powerful nobles who were involved in a long feud against Manzoni family, ancestors of the writer. The villa then passed to Count Salazar of Spanish origin. Since its construction the villa had the characteristics described by Manzoni until 1937, when Ulisse Guzzi, an industrial of Lecco, demolished it to build the current rationalist villa, who has kept in planning the central tower, now wider and lower than the previous one we read in The Betrothed.
The villa currently is the head office of the Olympic Committee and cannot be visited inside.
The lush and spacious garden surrounding it offers a spectacular view on the lake and mountains. It is open to the public just for special events.
Cover image: illustration darft for the edition of The Betrothed dated 1840 Library Braidense
The palace of Don Roderick stood by itself, on the summit of one of the promontories that skirt the coast; it was three or four miles distant from the village; at the foot of the promontory nearest the lake, there was a cluster of decayed cottages inhabited by peasantry belonging to Don Roderick. This was the little capital of his little kingdom. As you cast a glance within their walls, you beheld suspended to them various kinds of arms, with spades, mattocks, and pouches of powder, blended promiscuously. The persons within appeared robust and strong, with a daring and insulting expression of countenance, and wearing a long lock of hair on the head, which was covered with net-work. The aged, that had lost their teeth, seemed ready to show their gums at the slightest call: masculine women, with sinewy arms, seemed disposed to use them with as much indifference as their tongues; the very children exhibited the same daring recklessness as the parent stock. Friar Christopher passed through the hamlet, ascending a winding path which conducted him to the little esplanade in the front of the castle. The door was shut, which was a sign that the chief was dining and did not wish to be disturbed. The few windows that looked on the road were small and decayed by time; they were, however, secured by large iron bars; and the lowest of them were more than ten feet from the ground. A profound silence reigned within, and a traveller might have believed the mansion deserted, but for the appearance of four animals, two alive and two dead, in front of the castle. Two large vultures, with their wings expanded, were nailed each at the posts of the gate; and two bravoes, extended at full length on the benches on either side, were keeping guard until their master should have finished his repast.
(…)the palace of Don Roderick, raised above the huts that crowded the base of the promontory, like a savage prowling in the dark over his slumbering prey.
Palazzotto di Don Rodrigo Via Lo Zucco 6 – 23900 Lecco