At Riola and outskirts
Riola e dintorni
An original building dominates Riola: the Rocchetta Mattei.
It was built by Count Cesare Mattei, who studied the power of herbs all over the world. This knowledge gave him the possibility to find out a new healing method, where homeopathy, phytotherapy, alchemy and magnetism are joint together.
Mattei and his place became famous all over the world owing to the good effects of this new method and the free assistance given by himself to suffering people.
His books were translated in many different languages.
The secret of his healing method died with him in 1896. The legend tells that the secret of his studies was written on the walls of the little castle, unfortunately it disappeared because of other paintings that followed his death. Nearby the Rocchetta there is one of the most important expression of modern sacred building: Alvar Aalto’s church.
It was designed between the end of 60’s and the beginning of 70’s.
This building is connected to Kenzo Tange’s urban interventions and Le Corbusier’s Esprit Nouveau pavilion (Bologna Fair area).
Alvar Aalto designed the church respecting nature and following the symbols of the Apocalypse, that is present in the harmonious geometrical proportion of the building.
The front side of the church is inspired by the three mountains that surround Riola: Montovolo, Monte Vigese and Monte Vigo, that are linked to the ancient people of this place.
The shape of the church creates a perspective that let all the architectonical lines converge on the central point of the building in order to represent the Centre that the church itself symbolizes.
The sacred place is dominated by the presence of Light. It comes from on high and fulfils the whole space. Nearby the Baptismal font, a glass dome, Light represents the descent of the Holy Ghost.
In the same place Aalto used the symbol of the river linked to Baptism – you can see it thanks to an opening inside.
Reno and Limentra rivers flow into each other in Riola. All around this place you can listen to the echo of ancient buildings that belong to the XIII-XIV century: Ca’ Costonzo (West) and La Scola (East), a little village completely restored where you can breath ancient atmospheres.
The name of this place comes from the Longobardic word sculca and it means 'check point placed in a high position'.
Most of the buildings in La Scola belong to the XV-XVI century and can be considered wonderful samples of Mediaeval Apennine architecture, here worked Comacini Masters.
For sure De Parisi’s turreted building with its wonderful sandstone windows calling the memory of ancient castles is praiseworthy (second half of XIV century).
The whole place is full of little towers, hidden passages between buildings, lodges, fireplaces and windows decorated with coat of arms, inside wells, secret rooms and traps. The narrow passages inside the village are still made of big cobble stones, exactly like the ancient mediaeval roads. In fact La Scola was an important thoroughfare, it linked Rioveggio (Val di Setta) with Tuscany.
On the higher side of the village there is San Rocco oratory. It has been built in 1481 using sandstones blocks decorated with sculptures and inscriptions. It seems to be the last monument of this kind still existing in Bolognese Apennine.
In the area there is also an enormous cypress that should be 600-700 years old.
Nearby La Scola there is Campolo, famous for its stone-cutters and truffles, and the wonderful thirteenth-century sanctuary in Montovolo.
Montovolo is 962 metres high. The road to reach it is adorned with sacred emplacements and culminate in a wide expanse: here there is the ancient sanctuary dedicated to Madonna di Montovolo.
Probably it was built on a pagan temple.
The sanctuary is inside a natural park with Turkey and English oaks.
There are information about the church already in 1054, but the style that you can see nowadays goes back to the XIII century.
The venerated statue of the Madonna with Child, a Byzantine Crucifix, paintings and frescos are inside. The crypt goes back to VIII and IX century.
Riola is about 15 km far from the famous Porretta thermal baths, that is a centre with really ancient origins at the bottom of Monte della Croce.
The therapeutic avant-garde systems live together not only with old shops where you can find mushrooms, cheeses and local handcrafts but also with modern sport industrial and service infrastructures.
Not far away from here there is Castelluccio and the sanctuary of the Madonna del Faggio, revered starting from the XVII century.
Tuscany territory begins after having passed Porretta, Ponte della Venturina is the border between the two regions.
Carrying on with this road in Pistoia direction, after Pavana, there is Sambuca Pistoiese, an ancient village that recalls the energy of ancient pilgrimages.
In fact this way is famous in Saint Giacomo Maggiore’s cult, revered in Santiago de Compostela.
The way to Santiago was considered as an initiation route, the mediaeval homo viator walked towards the interior rebirth, from East to West, on the Compostellian way, that left marks in this place. Thanks to Sambuca way, Bologna was connected to Pistoia, that is the only city that keeps a relic of Saint Giacomo’s body, given by Bishop Diego Xelmirez.
6 km far from Riola there is Vergato. The most important building of the centre is Palazzo dei Capitani, ancient headquarter of the Mountain Captains.
It was built between the XIV and XV century and it has been carefully restored up to the original aspect after the second world war.
Here you can admire Luigi Ontani’s stained-glass windows.
After Vergato there is a diversion for Grizzana Morandi a place where you can still breath the air that inspired Giorgio Morandi, a great artist.
The painter, born in Bologna in 1890, spent his summer time in this village since 1913. He painted its houses and landscapes in his famous works.
In his home and haylofts you can take a look to his story
Driving towards Bologna you find Marzabotto that surely is a very interesting centre owing to the archaeological Etruscan site that surrounds it.
The finds are preserved in the Archaeological Museum P. Aria and all around is possible to visit the remains of the ancient village.
Referring to the cardinal points it is composed by eight quarters called regions.
It develops on a North-South axis called A way, perpendicularly crossed by three roads towards East-West, where you can see home and productive installations remains. The B way is particularly interesting, it leads to the Acropolis, the sacred area of the built-up area.
Under the foundation of the city it has been discovered the most ancient destroyed structure.
There are two sepulchral areas and only the one in the eastern side can be visited.
During the last world war Marzabotto was the place of a terrible massacre done by nazi troops against the citizens.
In 1959 a Memorial Place for the Victims has been created in Monte Sole park with the aim to extol the beauty of the landscape and to keep the memory of the massacre alive.
Not far away from Marzabotto there is Panico, where it is possible to admire San Lorenzo church (XII century), a basilica with one apse and nave and two aisles.
The church was a work of Masters Comacini, who left a mark of their passing in a lot of buildings belonging to this area.
Sasso Marconi comes after Marzabotto. The old name of the place was Sasso Bolognese as a tribute to the cliff – Sasso di Glòssina – that dominates the town and up to 1787 put up an oratory (collapsed because of a landslip in 1892).
Sasso Marconi was completely destroyed during the II world war, therefore today it is a modern residential centre.
In 1937 the name of the town changed to pay homage to Guglielmo Marconi, who made his researches in Villa Griffone, Pontecchio (4 km far away in Bologna direction).
In Pontecchio there is the fifteenth-century Palazzo dei Rossi, that Beroaldo described as a
Villa pulcherrima magnificentissimaque villarum in bononiensi territorio… domicilium voluptatis atque hospitium Psyches…
The Sanctuary of Boccadirio can be reached from Castiglione dei Pepoli, ancient fief of an noble Bolognese family.
The place is the second for its importance after the Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine di San Luca.
The church in Boccadirio was restored in the XVIII-XIX century and contains a Andrea della Robbia’s glazed glassed earthenware (1505).
Castiglione dei Pepoli is not far away from Brasimone Lake, an artificial basin created thanks to a dam. A different dam created Suviana Lake, that is the centre of a protected area called Lakes Park.
Cereglio is another possible excursion, there you can find the water spring Cerelia and the ancient place of Suzzano.
In Rocca di Roffeno you can find a Romanesque parish church with some baroque adjustments where Masters Comacini’s work is still reflected in the apse, and a mediaeval tower, sample of the fortified art of the mountains.
Other interesting places to visit are Castel D’Aiano (Countess Matilde di Canossa’s ancient fief), the Sanctuaries of Madonna della Brasa (920 mt high) and the one in Malandrone, the Lair of the Wild Man and Lizzano with its Madonna dell’Acero (XVI century).
Nearby this area there are a lot of nice little towns where you can keep in touch with nature and make long excursions.
In the winter time you can practice winter sports in Corno alle Scale, that is a nice tourist place.<
For people who loves trees, here you can find three trees protected from Regione Emilia-Romagna: the cypress of Vimignano-La Scola (2 mt diameter and 20 mt height); the chestnut-tree of Camugnano near Cà del Topo on Monte di Badi called L'Osteria del Bugeon; the maple of Lizzano in Belvedere 22 mt height and width 1,52 mt.