Entire territory Home / Discover the area / Tourist locations / Castellarano in Castellarano

Castellarano

It was part of the lands of Countess Matilda of Canossa, in its center are ancient buildings such as a small fortress, the hanging gardens, and the clock tower.

Informazioni e contatti

Altitude: 149 m
Inhabitants: 15.340  updated to December 31, 2018
Post code: 42014
Patron saint: San Rocco (August, 24th)
Grape festival: third Sunday of September
Hamlets: Cadiroggio, Roteglia, San Valentino, Tressano.
Weekly market day: Thursday
+39 0536.850114 Municipality
Municipality of Castellarano

How to get there

By car: from the exit Reggio Emilia on the Motorway A1, take SS567 to Scandiano, then Provincial road to Castellarano
By train: from Reggio Emilia, TPER train Reggio-Sassuolo then SETA bus n.88

Historical notes

The first traces of human habitation in the Castellarano area date from the Mesolithic era
(11 to 8 thousand years ago), particularly in the Campiano and Gambarata areas (silicium deposits, the remains of settlements etc.). There are also traces of the inhabitants of later eras but the archaeological remains from the Bronze Age are particularly worthy of mention. There are traces of two settlements in the Castellarano area referable to the terramara culture, even though the position of these sites is anomalous in that they are normally found on the plain. Finds from the same period have also been made in Roteglia belonging to a small settlement which clearly had a controlling function. It was based on the site of the old castle and was perhaps on two levels. More extensive finds which are also of greater importance, have been made in Castellarano itself in the area of the ancient centre on the sandstone hill rising above the Secchia.
There is substantial evidence of a lengthy Etruscan presence, discovered in Castellarano’s historic centre on top of the Terramara remains. What has been uncovered are dry-stone walls built along the cardinal points, fragments of pots and the base of a bowl with the owner’s name “Vernanès” written underneath. Many other Roman remains have been found throughout the Castellarano area which, as demonstrated by many place names, was an area of Roman colonisation with rural estates and villas. Thus, the place name Campiano derives from "Campilianus Fundus” (estate belonging to Campilio), Lorano from "Loranus fundus", Nirani from “Nirani Ager” (field belonging to the Neri family), Tressano, in the more correct dialect version of Terzano from “Terzianus Fundus" (Terzo’s estate), Rotteglia from “possessio Rutiliana” , that is, property of the Rutillia family (some however preferring a derivation from the late Latin “ervilia” meaning peas or beans!).
The area was thus mainly devoted to agriculture. The province between Reggio and Modena was known then for the production of prusinia grapes. Both Pliny and Columella noted the local manufacture of clay objects. The construction of the Reggio canal can also be dated to the Roman era. The name Castellarano probably derives from Latin – Castrum Arii or Darii, that is, Arius’s or Darius’s castle or fortified camp. It is argued by some that it derives from Castrum Olerianumn (Castle of Olives) or “Castrum Arianum" (Castle of the Aryans) with reference to a possible settlement of Aryan Lombards established in post-Roman times.
Indeed, after the fall of the Roman Empire, at around the second half of the 6th century, Castellarano was occupied by the Lombards who set up a military outpost in the area to counter the nearby presence of Byzantine troops (their opponents) in the Apennines. Much information has been discovered about this important garrison as a result of the wealth of archaeological finds and the presence of extensive burial grounds. The tombs to be found here belong for the most part to warriors buried with their weapons, now on display in the Reggio Emilia museum.
Important evidence of the end of their domination comes from the column capitals preserved in the ruins of the crypt of the parish church. There are also many place names referable to the period of Lombard domination, for example Farandello from the Lombard “faran” indicating that that area is the property of the household settled there, I Guati from “guaita” (guard post), La Braga from “braida” (field owned by community), Gambarata, from “Gambara” the name of a mythical Lombard queen.
Other important evidence comes from San Michele which formed part of the Castellarano area until 1815. The use of that saint’s name is itself a sign of Lombard dominance because the cult of the warrior saint was extremely widespread among the Germanic peoples whose sanctuaries dedicated to him are scattered across the whole of Europe, above all in highland areas.
There are few traces of the rule of the Canossa family (and Countess Matilda) over the 10th to 12th centuries. We do know that Countess Matilda owned a house and a chapel in Castellarano which she donated to the Monastery of Polirone (San Benedetto Po). In 1106 the Countess held an assembly at the Church of Santa Maria. She entrusted the government of Castellarano to a family of local nobles, in particular to Miles Raniero da Castellarano. This family did not last long however and in 1187, during the period of the Commune movement, Castellarano swore fidelity to Reggio Emilia. This latter city indeed, took much account of the little hill town since it was situated at the far end of the extremely important Reggio canal taking water from the River Secchia to feed the City’s water system, productive activities and mills. In 1185 Castellarano was visited by Barbarossa. During the struggle between Guelphs and Ghibellins Castellarano was the base for a group of extremely active and brave Guelph fighters and as a result the castle was besieged and destroyed. In 1319 the bellicose family of the Da Roteglias occupied Castellarano, being then linked to the town’s fortunes in a variety of incidents up to 1419, the year in which Castellarano was finally occupied by Este troops. Jacopo Giglioli was the first feudal lord of the town in 1432 but he was disgraced almost immediately and committed suicide in Ferrara. It was only in 1453 that the Duke Borso D’Este entrusted the fiefdom to Count Lorenzo Strozzi, the brother of the famous poet Tito Vespasiano (see the stone crests on the walls of the Rocchetta).
In 1501, Duke Ercole I gave Castellarano with San Martino in Rio and Campo Galliano in fief to his brother Sigismondo, who thus became the first fief holder of the junior Este line – Este San Martino. This family held Castellarano up to 1732 when the line died out without heirs.
Some of these lords of Castellarano are worthy of mention in greater detail. Reference has already been made to Sigismondo I. He was a very able man, entrusted with many tasks and offices by his brother Ercole I, the Duke of Ferrara. He it was who built the Palace of Diamonds for his brother Ercole (the diamond being indeed, the symbol of Hercules).
Sigismondo II was lord of Castellarano from 1512 to 1560. He was an able politician and was very close to Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy and Emperor Charles V of Spain, choosing to be buried in Castellarano. Filippo, his son, ruled Castellarano from 1560 to 1592. He was thought to be the most likely successor to Alfonso II D’Este, the last Duke of Ferrara, who died without heirs. In the end though, Cesare D’Este (Montecchio) was preferred, belonging to an illegitimate line, for reasons which remain unclear even today. Carlo Filiberto I (1592 to 1652) held a variety of positions under the Savoy family. He was a Knight of the Santissima Annunziata and Knight of Tosondoro. In 1618 he was responsible for the publication of the “Constitutioni” of San Martino in Rio, Castellarano and Campo Galliano, reforming the old 15th-century charters with a general increase in the severity of punishments. It was during the rule of this Marquis of San Martino that Sassuolo separated from the deanery of Castellarano in spite of the efforts of Cardinal Tosti, himself from Castellarano. A final mention should be made of Carlo Filiberto II (1732 to 1752), the last of the Este-San Martino branch. His rule saw changes made to the castle and also the construction of the famous aqueduct, often incorrectly described as Roman.
The Duke of Modena then passed the lands to Bresciano, Count Gaudenzio Vallotta (1726 to 1795) who was obliged to demolish a substantial part of the building constructed by his predecessor. After the abolition of feudal ties by the Napoleonic French, the building was sold to Mr Canevazzi, then passing to the Casali family. Castellarano was seriously damaged in the fire of 20 July 1944, started as a reprisal by occupying German troops. Many of the buildings in the historic centre were burnt down, including the Palace which was then rebuilt in 1974.

Useful links