Scaligero Castle in Malcesine

LocationMalcesine, Verona, Italy
ApplicationPaths and steps, Facades
Light planninglucearchitettura (Lorella Marconi, Cinzia Todeschini)
PhotoAlessio Tamborini

Overlooking the north-eastern shore of Lake Garda, the Scaligero Castle in Malcesine, with its roots in the Middle Ages but dominated in later centuries by the Venetians, French and Austrians, has recently undergone a lighting redevelopment. The lighting design, the work of Lucearchitettura, has made the fortified structure even more captivating.

Built on three levels, accessible by internal paths, the castle features a tower with an irregular pentagonal floor plan and a casermetta (the Palazzo Veneziano), a lower building that once housed the castle guards. A little further on, a balcony juts out over the lake, 24 metres above the water’s surface, allowing an expansive, evocative view of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

The castle is accessed through a new entrance, splendidly framed in light from Bright 2.4 fixtures, 5W 3000K 45° CRI>90, with built-in anti-glare hoods. Recessed into the ground at the feet of the entrance’s two successive arches, the fixtures create depth, highlighting the cannonballs’ rounded forms with dramatic chiaroscuro effects.

Beyond the entrance, two Ginko 2.0 projectors are installed in the wall: 5W 3000K and 4000K CRI>90, with 13°x52° elliptical optics in the first and 45° optics in the second, and asymmetrical snoots on both. They masterfully illuminate remnants of frescoes, probably the remains of a Scaligeri chapel. In the north-eastern corner of the courtyard, at the base of the tower, the same fixture, this time in a 3000K version with 45° optics, illuminates a 14th-century fresco depicting the Madonna and Child.

Rondò 2.1 step lights, 2W 3000K, with radial optics, are installed in the ground to illuminate the passageway connecting the first courtyard to the second, on the exterior of the Scaligeri residence, with their light extending to the low wall in front. The same fixtures light the perimeter of a raised space known as Rivellino, from which the village, lake and western flank of Mount Baldo can be admired. Today it is used to celebrate fairytale weddings, with a breathtaking view of Lake Garda. The passageways with vaulted ceilings are lit by Litus 1.6 recessed fixtures, 3.5W with diffuse optics.

The third courtyard, the highest and northernmost, is reached by a ramp and through an impressive Scaligeri portal. Here, Ginko 1.0 projectors, embedded in the parapets, emphasise the stone’s three-dimensionality and create a pattern of light on the wall below.

Such a complex design required a multi-level approach that fully respected the site and the surrounding environment, taking into account both the building’s aesthetics and monumental nature, and the functional flow within the castle. Lucearchitettura’s experience with restoring historic buildings and extreme sensitivity to the ancient site have given the entire castle a fresh look with a more respectful, restrained lighting scheme that doesn’t alter the landscape’s appearance. The small Ginko 1.0 projectors, 3.5W 3000K, with 58° optics, are a striking example of this. Completely contained in the thickness of the uprights under the handrail of the parapets, and with their anthracite finish helping them meld into the architecture, they create rhythm, spreading a soft light that caresses the pathways and extends to the opposite wall.

A soft light was also used for the two imposing 12-metre-high facades of the Palazzo Veneziano facing the lake and the Palazzo Scaligero in the intermediate courtyard. Stainless steel Stra 5.0 fixtures, 37W, in a customized Tunable White version (3000K–5000K), are recessed into the ground at a distance that reduces the contrasts of light and shadow produced by the stone’s irregular surface. Their wall washer optics efficiently direct the light output towards the facade and up to the cornice, emphasizing the height of the walls.

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