The first Palace of Bishops is documented in 1231, a few years after the “contract” of 1207, by which the City of Verona ceded the land to the bishopric of Monteforte in exchange for Legnago, Tregnago, Roverchiara and other locations.
Today’s palace, placed in Monteforte’s main square, was built in the second half of the fifteenth century by Ermolao Barbaro, the Venetian bishop remembered for his pastor qualities and his building initiatives: he made important works both in the diocese of Verona and in other episcopal residences.
He gave the task of designing the reconstruction of the building to the engineer Michele da Caravaggio, who in collaboration with his son Francesco, directed the works from 1457 until at least 1467, the year in which the bishop, as a reward for their services, conceded in perpetual lease a parcel of land located in Monteforte.
The building designed by master Michele is developed around the rectangular cloister, with 22 columns of red Verona marble on the ground floor and in the upper loggia. The building had to be crenelated originally, with high round chimneys and single lancet windows on the first floor, as it appears from a drawing preserved in the Library of Verona.
In later centuries, the building underwent several alterations which have greatly transformed its look, especially outside.
The most significant changes were implemented in the first half of the sixteenth century, at behest of Bishop Gian Matteo Giberti. He renewed the windows, putting its crest on them, and build the portal in the rear facade.
In September 1581 the palace hosted for one night, the Empress Maria of Austria, who was travelling with his brother Maximilian from Bohemia to Spain. Among the nobles who accompanied her there was also Don Ferrante Gonzaga with his wife, Donna Marta Tana, and the sons Rodolfo, Isabella and Luigi, the future saint. However it seems that the latter has not slept in the bishopric for lack of room.
In the Napoleonic era, the bishop Giovanni Andrea Avogadro, not to submit to the French, in 1801, seek refuge in the palace of Monteforte, where he remained until 1805. His successor, Innocenzo Liruti, arranged to make the restoration of the building which was damaged by the passage of French and Austrian troops.
At the end of World War II the bishopric was occupied by displaced persons and homeless families. The hard situation advised the bishop, Cardinal Giovanni Urbani, to sell the building to the Municipal Assistance, to convert it into a shelter for the elderly. The sale took place in 1955 and shortly afterwards a part of the palace became a rest home.
In 2002, the construction of the new structure was completed and the Bishops’ Palace became property of the City of Monteforte. Today is the center of cultural events, but its spaces, on request and depending on availability, can also host other kinds of initiatives, such as weddings, gala dinners, conferences, meetings, courses.
Taken from the website of the municipality of Monteforte d’Alpone