Rocchetta Mattei is one of the most beautiful castles in Italy, with a mysterious history tied to the figure of Count Cesare Mattei. It was this Italian politician and writer who envisioned its construction, choosing to build it on the ruins of the old Rocca di Savigno.
Its fairytale-like appearance hides an intricate network of corridors, rooms, and secret passages, which are visited by thousands of people every year. If you too want to see them with your own eyes, then keep reading to discover how to organize a visit to this marvelous fortress.
The allure of mystery and exoticism
There are places that manage to capture our imagination with their beauty and mysterious charm. The Rocchetta Mattei Castle is one such place. Situated amidst the hills of the Emilian Apennines, this castle is an authentic Moorish treasure that seems to have emerged from an Eastern fairytale. Its fascinating history and unique architecture make it an unmissable attraction for tourists who want to discover lesser-known places in Italy.
The Rocchetta Mattei Castle and the figure of the Count are mentioned in many novels, including the famous “The Brothers Karamazov” by Dostoevsky. The renowned Russian writer, in fact, includes a passage in which the Devil recounts having turned to Cesare Mattei’s electromedicine to cure his ailment. Other characters associated with the castle include Tsar Alexander II, Ludwig III of Bavaria, and some members of the House of Savoy, who stayed in the castle as guests of the Count.
The history of the castle
The history of the Rocchetta Mattei Castle dates back to the 19th century when Count Cesare Mattei, an Italian physician and philanthropist, decided to build this extraordinary residence. The castle was designed in Moorish style, inspired by the architecture of Andalusia, and became a place for experimenting with the Count’s medical theories.
In 1850, Count Mattei acquired the lands where the ruins of the ancient Rocca di Savigno stood and on November 5th of the same year, laid the foundation stone of the castle he would call Rocchetta, where he settled permanently from 1859, apparently personally overseeing its construction. The castle remained an open construction site throughout the Count’s life and even beyond, as a significant portion of it was completed by his adopted son, Mario Venturoli Mattei. It can be said that the town of Riola developed in parallel and by virtue of the existence of this construction site.
Mattei died on April 3rd, 1896. In 1904, Venturoli managed to become a co-heir with the grandchildren, completed the work on Rocchetta, modernized houses and villas, and continued the electromedical activity. In 1906, as expressly requested in his will, the remains were brought to Rocchetta and interred in the chapel. Today, the castle is a historical monument and a museum that tells the life and works of Count Mattei.
The Rocchetta Mattei Castle is located within the municipality of Grizzana Morandi, specifically in the locality of Ponte. It is close to Bologna, approximately 50 kilometers away. The castle is open exclusively on weekends, on Saturdays and Sundays.
Visiting hours at Rocchetta Mattei vary depending on the season: in winter from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., in summer from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Access to the castle always requires a reservation, which is non-refundable and must indicate the exact date of the visit. In case of inability to attend, with prior notice of 2 or 3 days, it is possible to transfer the ticket to another person by changing the name.
The Rocchetta Mattei Castle represents a hidden gem in the Emilian Apennines, a place rich in history, beauty, and charm. If you are looking for unique and off-the-beaten-path experiences during your trip to Italy, you cannot miss a visit to this Moorish castle.