Photo by Nicola Bisi from WikiLovesMonuments

Due to its geographical position, Emilia has always played an important role in the history between the Etruscans and the Gauls, the Romans and the Lombards, and then between the Lombard League and the imperial power. Consequently, the region is home to many castles and fortresses, buildings based on major events and interwoven stories where you can immerse yourself retracing centuries of history.

As perfect destinations for a Sunday outing or as stops on a themed tour, castles are bursting with history, art and culture, and can even be the perfect spot to find a bit of peace and relax on your own or with your family. Here is a collection for you of the best castles in Emilia according to EsserEmiliano.

1-Bardi Castle is located in the province of Parma atop a rocky spur, overlooking the point where the Noveglia and Ceno Brooks meet. It is a typical military building which was the home of the Landis, Princes of a mountain state, for over four centuries. After the last of the Landi family died out, in the mid-1800s it was handed over to the municipality. Since then a stream of initiatives has been organised, such as Psychiatry Horror on 12th September, a role play evening all about fear and horror.

Castello Bardi

Il Castello di Bardi – Photo By Filippo Aneli via

2-Torrechiara Castle is one of the best preserved in all of Italy. It is located in Langhirano in the province of Parma and was built by Pier Maria Rossi the Magnificent, a great general and the styled Father of the Homeland, who masterminded Parma’s freedom. The castle’s showpiece is its magnificent Golden Chamber, attributed to Benedetto Bembo. You can take a guided tour from March to October on the following days: Tuesday and Sunday from 10:30 am to 7:30 pm; Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm. From November to February on the following days: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm; Tuesday, Sunday and public holidays from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm.

Camera d'Oro del Castello di Torrechiara

Camera d’Oro del Castello di Torrechiara

3-Roccabianca Castle was built around the 1400s once again by Pier Maria Rossi the Magnificent and is dedicated to his beloved Bianca Pellegrini. It is located in the municipality of Roccabianca in the province of Parma. The castle’s special features are its exquisite decorations, heraldic coats of arms and the modern cycle of paintings inspired by the hundredth tale by Boccaccio. You can also visit the Distillery museum, where they make fine spirits and liqueurs in Slavonian oak barrels. During the visit you can see the distillation columns and the bottling equipment used.

4-The Meli Lupi Fortress is located in the municipality of Soragna in the province of Parma. Built in 1385 by Bonifacio and Antonio Lupi, over the centuries it became the home of the principality of the Holy Roman Empire. The Fortress contains countless rooms packed with history and art. You can also admire the majestic garden built as a tribute to the great power of the Lupi family.

5-Montechiarugolo Castle stands on the banks of the Enza Brook on the border between Parma and Reggio Emilia provinces. The first attempt at Italian independence took place here, a prelude to the Italian Risorgimento. On 4 October 1796, at the battle of Montechiarugolo, the militia of the Emilian Civic Guard attacked the Austrian troops who took refuge in the castle. This event was recalled by Carducci in an oration to mark the 1st centenary of Italy’s Tricolour. Today, the castle is home to various initiatives such as “Ricordanze di sapori”, a festival of lavish dinners in full regal style. If you wish to visit the castle, you can come during the following months: from March to November, Sunday and public holidays from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The castle can also be hired for ceremonies and events.

6-Sanvitale Castle is located in Fontanellato. It stands out with its elegance yet at the same time conveys strength and solidity. Art aficionados can visit the Saletta di Diana e Atteone” with its frescoes by Francesco Mazzone, known as the Parmigianino. The castle regularly hosts various events. On 27th September at 3:30 pm, there will be a fun guided tour for young children “MAGIROCCA: Aladdin and Jasmine, the magic of love”. The cost of this fun tour includes a snack buffet. Booking is required. To celebrate Halloween on 31st October at 6:30 pm, “Castle-Transylvania” is taking place: a guided tour of the castle, including a themed dinner and entertainment for children and families.

7-Anyone who wants to visit Reggio Emilia area should head to Canossa Castle, located in the municipality of Canossa on a rock in the heart of a rolling hillside. The home of the Canossa family, it is famous for being the refuge of Pope Gregory VII and Emperor Henry IV, who managed to obtain the Pope’s pardon and revoke his excommunication. Canossa Castle is also known for the great Countess Matilda of Canossa, the powerful feudatory of all the regions to the north of the Papacy and a supporter of the Pope during the Investiture Controversy. You can also visit the fantastic archaeological digs and the Naborre Campanini museum.

Castello di Canossa Photo By FranzXaver via

Il Castello di Canossa – Photo By FranzXaver via

8-In Modena province you can visit the Court of Vignola. It was built in the 8th century under the authority of the Papacy. It was then handed over to Ugaccione Contrari, a nobleman from Ferrara. In 1575, the last of the Contrari family died out and the entire fiefdom went to the Boncompagni family. In 1815, the entire court was incorporated into the land of the Duke of Modena and the castle became home to several political and social institutions. Today, the castle offers countless activities including historical and educational workshops for students. You can visit the fortress on classic or themed tours. If you choose the classic option, you will visit all the castle’s rooms. While if you choose the themed option, you will enjoy in-depth information, details and a background of the castle’s history. Lastly, you cannot miss the Ugaccione Chapel, where you will be amazed by the frescoes that decorate the lunettes over the walls as well as the rib vaults on the ceiling.

9-Moving to Ferrara, you can visit the Este Castle, a major work by the Este family who managed to gain a place among the most prestigious courts in Europe for Ferrara. Over the centuries, the castle has always played a central role in events with the domination of the Este family and the Papacy, and then throughout the long journey towards the unification of Italy. The castle has been home to many artists over the centuries, including Saraceni, Domenichini and many others whose work you can admire. From 31st January 2015, several great works by the artists Boldini and De Pisis will be exhibited in the castle’s rooms.

Il Castello Estense - Photo By Nicola Busi via</a

Castello Estense Photo By Nicola Busi via

11-Malaspina Castle is located in Bobbio and was built in 1303 by the family of the same name. The castle has many rooms to visit, including the Sala delle Marine, the great banquet hall with seventeenth-century paintings, the Octagon table room and a bedroom with imperial furniture. You can visit the castle from 1st June to 30th September: from Tuesday to Saturday between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm; Sunday and weekday public holidays between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm and from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. From 1st October to 30th May from Monday to Saturday between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm.

12-We conclude our journey through the most beautiful castles of Emilia by turning our attention to Piacenza province. Here our interest is sparked by Grazzano Visconti Castle. It was built by will of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, a gentleman from Milan, for his sister, Beatrice Visconti, and her consort, a nobleman from Piacenza by the name of Anguissola. Around the 1800s, the castle fell into disrepair because the Anguissola family could not foster any heirs. Duke Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone, a cultured man of highly refined taste, then decided to begin renovation work. His greatest work was the Park, which is characterised by elements of an Italian garden, as well as French and English parks.  This is the perfect place for botany and ornithology enthusiasts since it offers day and night tours led by specialist ornithologists and biologists.