Castles in the province of Bologna Tour

rocchetta1In the middle ages the area surrounding Bologna was dominated by noble and upper middle class families seeking for power. To demonstrate their prestige and impose their authority on the local landscape these families often built themselves lavish residences in the form of spectacular castles. These castles stretch right across the Bologna Province and the most notable examples (many of which are open to the public) are listed below.


The Rocchetta Mattei castle is an enchanting structure located near the village of Ponte in the Municipality of Grizzana Morandi, just 20 km away from Lodole Country House. And anyone driving up the Porrettana State Highway (SS64) through the splendid Bolognese Apennines cannot fail to fall under its spell. The castle was built as a private residence and rest home in the mid 19C by Count Cesare Mattei, the founder of Electro-Homeopathy. The fascinating architecture of the structure combines medieval and Moorish styles that give the building a distinctive oriental feel that contrasts spectacularly with the surrounding hills. In the 1960s the Rocchetta Mattei castle was converted into a luxury hotel but in the 1980s it was abandoned and fell into neglect. The building is now the property of the Fondazione della Cassa di Risparmio di Bologna who are currently restoring it.


Originally built as a defence against the barbarians over a thousand years ago, the Rocca dei Bentivoglio castle still stands just 25 km from Bologna in the municipality of Bazzano overlooking the splendid landscapes of the Bolognese Apennines. The current layout of the castle dates back to the ascendancy of the Bentivoglio family who used the castle as a country residence. The castle features a number of frescoed rooms decorated with crests and symbols representing the story of this famous Bolognese family and is also home to the Municipal Media Library, an Archaeological Museum and the Rocca dei Bentivoglio Foundation.


The Pepoli family originally built this castle with its central tower in 1500 as a hunting lodge and country residence at the heart of the family’s lands. The castle is situated in the village of Palata Pepoli, in the Municipality of Crevalcore, just 30 km outside Bologna. Today the castle is still private property and the owners are currently helping with the restoration of the building.


This castle complete with its military defences of moats, battlements and towers was built by Cavaliere Manzoli in 1400 as an aristocratic residence and is surrounded by a vast park and ancient woods. On the first Saturday and Sunday of October the park is home to an important festival that has been held there since the 1500s. The San Martino Castle is located in the countryside outside Soverzano, in the Municipality of Minerbio, just 18 km outside Bologna. The castle is currently a private residence and can only be viewed from the outside.


The ancient Rocca Sforzesca castle dates back to the middle ages and overlooks the characteristic structure of a small hamlet that has remained unchanged over the centuries. Dozza is a picturesque village located midway between Bologna and Imola, and is famous the world over for both its splendid castle and “Biennale del Muro Dipinto” (Biennial Mural Festival). The original castle was restructured in 1400 by Caterina Sforza who altered the military structure of the fortress and turned it into a graceful aristocratic residence with a series of imposing rooms and halls facing onto a majestic, central courtyard. Today the castle is home to the Emilia Romagna Regional Wine Store, an association responsible for the promotion and protection of local wines (free admission), and a Mural Documentation and Study Centre featuring some of the best work from the artists who have taken part in the Biennial Mural Festival over the years (Guided tour admission only, for more info: tel. 0542 678240).


The Giovannina Castle is a beautiful country residence built by the Bentivoglio family at the end of the 1400s. Located in the village of San Matteo della Decima in the municipality of San Giovanni in Persiceto, just 30 km from Bologna, the castle takes its name from the road in which it is situated. Four classic, crenellated tours and typically medieval battlements give the house a majestic, military air that is enhanced by the splendid park and ancient woods that surround it. Its interiors include prestigious frescoes by Guercino and numerous priceless antiques that all contribute to making this structure one of the most refined and picturesque castles in the whole province. The Giovannina castle is privately owned and franchised to a catering company who use it for important events such as weddings and conferences.