Castello di Amarosa

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Many ancient castles took hundreds of years to build or were never completed. Castello di Amorosa has taken 13 years, cost millions of dollars, involved the expertise of at least 12 different ZFA engineers, and still has yet to reach Dario Sattui’s ultimate vision. The design of this project started in 1994 and the structure finally opened to the public in 2007. Through this process, the project grew and evolved from the original vision as Villa Amorosa into Castello di Amorosa, an authentic European castle. Those 13 years were spent working in great detail with Lail Design Group (project architects), as well as with Dario Sattui (owner) and his imagination in creating his medieval bastion.

castello-di-amorosa-02It took one man’s vision, and the cooperation of a skilled design team committed to creativity, to accomplish this achievement. Take the opportunity to visit the castle yourself, enjoy a fine glass of wine and some authentic history within the Napa Valley.

The castle’s foundation began as an 8,500 square foot Villa before it morphed into a 121,000 square foot, 107 room, 8 level castle, that includes four underground levels and four above ground levels. The castle’s underground cellars range over two acres. Dario made sure that his castle was authentic with a moat, drawbridge, defense tower, torture chamber, and an escape tunnel.

castello-di-amorosa-03Over 850,000 bricks were imported from Europe and a master stone mason was brought from Italy to guide the construction of the stone and brick used in the walls and ceilings. Hand-cut stones, some taking as much as 1 1/2 hours each, were carved on site to create the castle walls, arches and vaults. Dario furthered his vision by ensuring the craftsmen used traditional methods and period materials wherever possible.

Some techniques used in the construction of ancient castles are time proven for providing gravity support of these mammoth structures, but do not have the ability to resist the shaking of a California tremor. This castle maintains the appearance of medieval fortress, but incorporates 20th century technology and materials behind the stone. To accomplish this task light-weight concrete, metal studs, and insulative foam were integrated into the design. Meeting the current building code structural requirements, the castle is a large vault of reinforced concrete wrapped in ancient brick and stone. Thousands of veneer anchors attach the stones and bricks used in the medieval era walls and ceilings. The lower level catacomb ceilings are vault-formed structural concrete slabs coated with anchored brick.

castello-di-amorosa-04Over 33 sheets of structural drawings were needed to provide the level of detailing essential to accomplish this task. There are volumes of details showing the structural specifics of window arches, jambs, and sills. Multiple sheets were needed to demonstrate the support and seismic bracing for the period fireplaces and chimneys.

It took one man’s vision, and the cooperation of a skilled design team committed to creativity, to accomplish this achievement. Take the opportunity to visit the castle yourself, enjoy a fine glass of wine and some authentic history within the Napa Valley.