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Talk about star power. This fifteenth-century castle looms ahead as you wander out of a pine forest. Instantly you recall a jousting scene from the fortress's featured role in an early-sixties epic flick, one where the lady was played by a classic Italian beauty and the lord by a chiseled American leading man. A knight who fights invaders, he dies in a moment of triumph (big surprise) just before the credits roll.
Made of small hewn stones, the hexagonal stronghold was designed in a hybrid of styles unique to the peninsula this country dominates. It was commissioned by a marquisthe first in a lineage that still existswho was tight with a king we'll call Hank. The marquis's son lost the citadel in a war of succession but regained it courtesy of one of history's great power couples. Later, an empress consort moved in and had the place gussied up after the death of her husband (the nephew of a famed dynamo of a ruler). Another huge renovation, just completed, brought the exquisite wood ceilings and stone architraves back to life.
You are visiting a town of a few thousand inhabitants in the southeast corner of a province whose main city is known for houses perched precariously on clifftops. And you've chosen a propitious spot from which to start touring this region, since the hill you're standing on is named for the patron saint of voyagers. This hot, dry plateau is best known as the setting for a great picaresque tale. In fact, the first leg of a literary route goes right through here. So grab your walking stick or jump on a bike and go forththings could really start tilting your way.
Where are you, anyhow?
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