by Maria E. Bellini
When we wander off the Trails, we often come across some amazing places, which here at Italyontrail.com think are definitely worth a visit. This is the case with Rocchetta Mattei, nearby the Regional Park of Lakes Suviana and Brasimone, which is in the Emilia-Romagna region in central-northern Italy.
“Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. And dreams are forever.” – Walt Disney
Where to find the Castle
Not far from the city of Bologna, in the Apennines lies the intriguing castle of Rocchetta Mattei. Well worth the detour, if you are walking around the Lakes in the nearby Regional Park of Lakes Suviana and Brasimone. This enchanting fortress will beguile you.
Situated in the tiny Apennine village of Riola, near Grizzana Morandi, the castle lay in an abandoned state of despair for many years, frequented by Urbex enthusiasts from near and far, who were keen to document the atmospherically raw beauty Rocchetta Mattei offered the ‘intruding visitor’ during it’s abandoned years.
However in 2006 the Rochhetta Mattei Castle was acquired by Fondazione Carisbo – the Carisbo Bank Foundation, and a major project was undertaken to restore this beguiling monument, home and melting pot of scientific and artistic wonder that had been part of the life project and essence of the man who was Count Cesare Mattei (1809-1896).
The restoration, which is still ongoing, has been by no means an easy feat. This amazing space, composed of a myriad of tiny ornate rooms, narrow corridors, unexpected passageways, sombre studies and laboratories, exotic courtyards and magical spaces for worship and spirituality will visually seduce you with ingenious interiors, adorned and decorated with often quirky and symbolic details, moorish, gothic, and medieval influences permeate the castle’s many intimate spaces. Science merges with art to create an atmosphere of mystic esthetics.
So how did it all begin?
Devastated with the death of his mother, and also by the failure of traditional medicine to alleviate his mother’s suffering, Count Mattei begun his quest to seek out a ‘new medicine’. In 1850 he purchased the plot of land on where lay the ruins of an ancient Castle. And slowly, lovingly, reconstruction begun, and the Rocchetta Mattei Castle came into being.
It was also within these walls that Count Cesare Mattei developed and practiced his lifelong concept of a medicine he named Electro-Homoeopathy. His reputation spread, and the Castle, and various buildings in the vicinity became medical, curing destinations for the affluent sick.
The Count’s died in 1896, and production of his cures and remedies continued. During the Second World War, the Rocchetta Mattei was occupied by German forces, and after the war, the Castle was sold to local entrepreneur Primo Stefanelli, who turned the Rocchetta Mattei into a hotel, restaurant and local attraction, and it remained so until it’s definite closure in 1989 upon Stefanelli’s death.
It was only in 1997 that a local committee was set up with the aim of bringing the Rocchetta Mattei’s declining situation into the public limelight, with the objective of safeguarding and restoring this historical and fascinating building. And in 2006, the Carsibo Foundation purchased the Castle and work began, to bring back this mesmerizing place to its former glory and open it to the public for all to appreciate.
Link to official website www.rocchettamattei-riola.it
Maria Elisabetta Bellini is Italyontrail.com’s founder, born in the U.K, she came to running whilst living in Italy, where she still lives and trains. Never ceasing to marvel at what’s at the summit of a hill, or around the bend along the trail, she loves using trail running as a means to explore nature, contemplation and Italy.