Eight to ten centuries ago there were no burglar alarms or armour-plated front doors for keeping yourself safe at home. Instead, the more aristocratic families locked themselves away into imposingly fortified towers, which also functioned as their principal residences. An example of this type of mediaeval architecture can still be found today at Casazza, in the centre of a small, fortified hamlet set amongst the hills and dales of the Val Cavallina.
Colognola is a picturesque and minuscule village that forms part of Casazza. It is found after climbing a few hairpin bends as you head up the mountain. Amid the narrow streets of this tiny village there still stands one of these monumental tower-houses, one of the best conserved in all the valley and constructed with local stone.
The tower dates from the 1200’s. It was originally much higher, but was truncated when the Suardi counts were owners of the house and had many of their possessions confiscated by the Republic of Venice.
This was not a place for ample panoramic windows: mediaeval structures like this were built for defence. Thus the tower has little round-arched windows and arrow-slits to limit the risk of enemy incursion. The door at the ground floor entrance is decorated with herringbone motifs cut into stone.
The tower of Colognola is part of an ancient, fortified complex which comprised houses for the tenant farmers who worked the land, also the residence of the lord, Antonio Suardi, together with the tower where he and his family could take refuge in times of danger.