Giovanni Castelmur was born in 1800 in Stampa and
raised in Marseille, where his family owned a pastry shop. Consistent
with the family tradition, he and his brother, Bartolomeo, left home.
After becoming a successful businessman and receiving the title of
baron, Giovanni returned to Bregaglia determined to restore prestige
to the family name. Ever since the Late Middle Ages, the Castelmur
family was among the most politically and economically influential
families of the region. However, in the centuries that followed,
their power diminished as they were overshadowed by more prominent
families, such as the Salis family. Giovanni Castelmur purchased
the hill of Nosa Donna, where there is a church tower dating back
to the Middle Ages and the dilapidated Santa Maria church dating
back to the Reformation. Although he and his wife never had children,
he made a family mausoleum out of the church. He and his wife, Mrs.
Anna Castelmur, who was also his first cousin, were buried in the
crypt of the church. The busts of both can be seen at the entrance
to the church.
Giovanni Castelmur was barely 30 years old when he became a property
owner. In addition to being a successful businessman, he also established
himself as a philanthropist and supporter of the arts. He was determined to legitimize his nobility by acquiring a title.
At some point, he was bestowed the title of baron, which he also
passed on to his wife, the baroness. The manner in which he received
the title is questionable. It is believed that he may have purchased
the title, since all his life he had tried to confirm the legitimacy
of his family's noble status. Even his indirect relatives used the
baron title up until the late 2000s.
To this day, the baron and baroness are recognized for their charitable
contributions and for having supported various institutions and public