Rocchetta Mattei in Bologna, an architectural jewel to be admired
28 September 2022
Rocchetta Mattei, a story of rebirth
The Rocchetta Mattei is a historical residence characterised by several architectural styles, all surprisingly blended into a fairytale-like mix that will leave young and old alike speechless.
Commissioned by Count Cesare Mattei—a prominent figure on the Bolognese scene and the inventor of electromyopathy—the enchanting castle in the Bolognese Apennines deserves much more than a quick visit.
The building, erected in 1850 on the ruins of an ancient structure dating back to the 13th century, was bound to reflect the count's eclectic personality: medieval-style elements, Art Nouveau decorations, Moorish-style towers and flashes of Gothic blend together and create the impression of a crazy and majestic, almost magical place. Modified several times during the lifetime of Count Mattei and the subsequent owners, it is a labyrinth of impressive staircases, stately towers, reception rooms and private chambers that will leave you speechless.
Situated a 45-minute drive from Bologna, after years of neglect, Rocchetta Mattei reopened to the public in 2005 and, with its artistic and cultural value, is now an incomparable weekend destination.
Owned by the Fondazione Carisbo, La Rocchetta Mattei is now in the hands of the Municipality of Grizzana Morandi, the Metropolitan City of Bologna and the Unione Comuni Appennino Bolognese (Union of Municipalities of the Bolognese Apennines) to ensure that it can shine more brightly than ever.
The fascinating attributes of Rocchetta Mattei
The fascinating tangle of architectural elements and the breathtaking view are captivating at first glance, but the interesting features do not end there.
Each of the castle's rooms was conceived and designed with a specific purpose in mind: the perfect example is the Sala dei 90, which Mattei commissioned to host a banquet for 89 90-year-olds on the occasion of his 90th birthday (which unfortunately he never celebrated, ed).
Among the areas of the residence that are most popular with visitors is the Chapel inspired by the Mezquita, the mosque of Cordoba, which blends Arab Islamic elements, such as the arches, with features of the Italian medieval architectural tradition.
Also not to be missed is the Courtyard of the Lions, a small and charming reproduction of the courtyard of the Alhambra in Granada with, in the centre, the fountain surrounded by four lions. Around it, the splendid portico with walls covered in valuable Sevillian tiles stands out.
Finally, inquisitive visitors will fall in love with the Noble Staircase: a curious stone spiral staircase that, due to the stripes painted in two colours on the circular wall and column and the spiral shape of the staircase itself, creates the illusion of two staircases mirroring each other.
The visit ends with a relaxing walk in the park surrounding the structure, a wonderful opportunity to let your imagination wander back to the splendour of Rocchetta Mattei's origins.
How to visit Rocchetta Mattei
To visit the Rocchetta Mattei, you need to make a reservation. You can do so online on the official website by means of a simple calendar which shows availability as and when it becomes available. You will then be assigned a guide who will lead small groups to explore the building, including curiosities and little gems that will make the trip even more interesting.
On the way back to Bologna, why not stop at one of the many agritourisms that populate the hills, where eating is a ritual of great care and taste.
Rocchetta Mattei is an architectural jewel to be admired, a destination not to be forgotten for alternative and delightful weekends in Bologna.