Schio castle, situated on top of a hill dominating the historic centre is one of the most symbolic landmarks of the city.
Schio castle, situated on top of a hill dominating the historic centre is, together with the Statue of the Weaver, one of the most symbolic landmarks of the city. The first defense structure, as revealed by archeological excavations carried out in 1914-1919, appears to date back to the iron or bronze ages, it could therefore have been built by the Euganean or Venetian populations. In the Middle Ages, the Maltraversi, lords of Vicenza, built their Castle here and maintained control, with the exception of a brief period in which it fell under the Ezzelini, until 1311. The Castle was then occupied by the municipality of Vicenza and later by the Scaligeri. The Visconti family bought the Castle in 1387 and later sold it to Count Giorgio Cavalli, who lived in it until 1406, when the Venetian domination began. Based on a recent documental research, we can now establish that Vicenza ordered the demolition of the fortress in 1412, probably as a reaction to the imperial tendencies of the people of Schio. Only a few ruins of the original walls and towers have remained. Built in the last years of the 14th century and extended in the 18th century, the church of Santa Maria della Neve (Our Lady of the Snow) was the motherhouse of the confraternity of the Gonfalone. Deconsecrated in 1810, the sacred building, owned by the municipality, was over time used as headquarters of the French and Austrian troops and eventually turned into a gym in 1875 by the "Fortitudo" Gymnastics Society. The building was restored in the 1980’s and now presents itself as a structure made of stones and potsherd, with gabled façade and quadrangular tower, with a clock and ornamental merlon motif. In a painting of 1512 by Francesco Verla in the church of St. Francis, there seems to be a representation of the city’s castle. This would confirm the bond the citizens felt with the fortress and perhaps that the people of Schio wanted to liberate themselves of their subjection to Vicenza, preferring a potestà sent from Venice rather than someone chosen by their subjugators. Beneath the hill’s esplanade, the avenue lined by horse-chestnut trees offers a pleasant walk to the small church of San Rocco.