• July 12, 2013

Carpineti: The Castello delle Carpinete is a medieval hilltop castle (now in ruins) just over 30 minutes’ drive away, once owned by Countess Matilde di Canossa, a key historical figure in this area. There are short guided tours of the castle on certain days but it’s worth going up purely for the amazing views. There is also a good restaurant there (see the ‘Restaurants’ section). If you’re staying in February, you will want to head up there for Mongolfiere Innamorate, an annual week-long hot-air balloon festival held to coincide with Valentine’s Day (weather allowing)!

Canossa: The Castello di Canossa, built in 940 and rebuilt in the 13th century, is now largely in ruins but it does house a small museum with archaelogical finds from excavations carried out in  the 19th century. The views are, again, wonderful – visit on a clear day and you can see the Alps. Every year on the first Sunday in September there is a historical re-enactment of Canossa; in the streets and piazzas, with actors and actresses dressed in costume.

Rossena, nr Canossa: The 11th century Castello di Rossena has panoramic views over the Valle D’Enza and the surrounding hills. It now offers hostel-style accommodation and holds themed evenings with medieval-style dinners. Weekend guided tours can be booked.

Casina: The Castello di Sarzano is a picturesque fortress, built in 958 to defend the road from Reggio Emilia to Tuscany. The current building dates back to the 15th century. It is now mainly used as a convention centre but it is possible to sleep and eat there.

These castles are all within easy reach of one another; more than one can be visited in a day.

Vignola: As well as being famous for its cherries, Vignola (about 1hr 15 min away) has an impressive castle – La Rocca di Vignola. There are two splendid halls used for conventions and concerts, reception rooms used for exhibitions, a frescoed chapel, and parapet walks that connect its three towers. Almost the whole castle can be visited – 1-2 hours is enough to see it all.

If castles are your thing and you’re happy to go a little further afield (but still within the Emilia Romagna region) to visit them, there is a plentiful supply of medieval and Renaissance castles well within reach, especially around Parma and Piacenza.