The Obizzi family, whose origins lie in the Burgundy region of France, may be considered, in Italian history, as a family of “soldiers of fortune”, who reached Italy in the wake of the Emperor Henry II in 1007.
After settling originally in Tuscany, the family took up residence in the Venetian Republic, at the time highly powerful and rarely at war with the Italian states, since its interests lay in conquests outside Italy, linked to its maritime activities.
In a period of peace, Pio Enea degli Obizzi (who gave his name to the “obice”, a howitzer siege cannon), attracted by the beauty of the area, decided to build a palace worthy of the magnificence of the family.
This palace was designed by Pio Enea himself without the help of architects; it is therefore a cross between a military castle and a prince’s palace. It was built in just three years between 1570 and 1573 (with the exception of the uppermost wing, which dates back to the 19th century). Paintings were originally only planned on the outside walls (but no longer exists), but in 1571 Pio Enea had the inside walls frescoed with the exploits of his family by Gian Battista Zelotti, a pupil of Paolo Veronese.
The Obizzi family line came to an end in 1805 with the marquis Tommaso, who left the castle to the heirs of the house of d’Este ( the archdukes of Modena ). The uppermost wing of the castle, known as “Castel Nuovo”, was built under Francesco IV. On the death of Francesco V, who was childless, Catajo castle passed to the archduke of Austria, Franz Ferdinand, who was a relative.
These last two owners were responsible for transferring the armoury and the museum of the Obizzi to Konopischt castle and Vienna respectively, togheter with a vast collection of musical instruments and paintings. After the first world war Catajo castle was given to the Italian State by way of war reparations. The government then sold it to Dalla Francesca family in 1929.