Palazzo Bentivoglio

The building hosts the Documentary Museum, the Antonio Ligabue Museum Foundation and the Umberto Tirelli Donation. Sala di Icaro, the Chapel, Sala di Enea and Sala dei Falegnami are open to the public.

Address and contacts

Piazza Bentivoglio - 42044 Gualtieri
Fondazione Antonio Ligabue: 0039 0522 221853; 0039 349 2348333.
Palazzo Bentivoglio

Opening times

For information on the days and opening times of Palazzo Bentivoglio, please contact the Antonio Ligabue Foundation.

Opening times 2020 on the occasion of the exhibition "Misunderstood"-The life of Antonio Ligabue through his works:
Saturday 10.00 a.m. - 1.00 p.m. and 3.00 - 7.00 p.m. (last entrance at 6.00 p.m.); Sunday and holidays 10.00 a.m. - 7.00 p.m. (last entrance at 6.00 p.m.) - entrance Euros 7.00 - compulsory reservation. Access to maximum 20 people at the same time every hour. Compulsory use of mask. Info: Antonio Ligabue Museum phone 0039.0522.221853; 0039.349.2348333.
Closed Saturday, August 8, 2020.
Other opening hours on different days according to the performances at Palazzo Bentivoglio.

How to get there


By car
Distance from the Reggio Emilia exit of the A1 motorway: 20 km. Distance from the Reggiolo/Rolo exit of the A22 motorway: 16 km. National Road SS63, which runs from Mantua to Reggio Emilia. National Road SS62, which runs from Parma to Mantua and Verona.

By train
Station in Gualtieri, trains from Parma along Parma-Suzzara route.

By bus

This Palace is in Santa Vittoria village, which is 5 (five) kilometers far from Gualtieri.

Historical notes

What remains of the ancient castle has been transformed and incorporated into the present structure of Palazzo Bentivoglio.
The castle was built on the right bank of the Po River in an area that was fertile and sought after by the nobility of the period who aimed at controlling the waterways. The façade facing the large piazza and in the two towers in the rear corners preserve traces of the ancient splendour.
The complex was made up of a large quadrangular structure surrounded by deep moats at the four corners and included towers. The entire complex enclosed a large courtyard.
At the beginning of the 14th century the castle was owned by Azzo d’Este, followed in 1326 by the domination of the Da Correggio. In 1345 the property passed to Marquis Obizzo d’Este. In spite of his attempts made to strengthen the defences of the castle, he was nevertheless expunged that same year by the Gonzaga, who held the fief on behalf of the Visconti.
During the rule of the Gonzaga family the manor house, the site of constant battles, fell under the jurisdiction of Brescello.
In 1402, Gian Galeazzo, Duke of Milan, invested Ottobono Terzi with the fief, and in 1442 substituted the latter with Erasmo Trivulzio.
In 1452 Gualtieri was ruled by the Da Correggio, and then once again fell under the domination of Milan in 1454. An exchange of real property stipulated in 1479 between the Visconti and the nobility of Ferrara decreed that Gualtieri belonged to the Este Duchy and was subject to the Duchess Bona, invested by Ercole I. The House of Este maintained its dominion until 1567, when Alfonso I decided to concede the fief of Gualtieri to Cornelio Bentivoglio with the title of Marquis.
Cornelio significantly modified the layout of the town through the construction of a noble residence which he commissioned Giovan Battista Aleotti to build. The latter, known as l’Argenta, “to erect the massive structure” used material recuperated from the demolition of the Castellazzo, used as the seat of the Community Council.
Ippolito, Cornelio’s successor, began governing in 1594 and saw to the completion of the magnificent “Palazzo Bentivoglio,” respecting all the canons of the Renaissance.
There was a large central courtyard inside with gardens, surrounded by porticoes on which ran loggias leading to the apartments and reception halls.
Gualtieri’s period of splendour ended symbolically in 1634, when Francesco I of Modena took for himself the marquisate. In 1661, under the rule of Laura, Duchess of Modena, the palazzo was enlarged and enriched.
The House of Este sold the Palazzo in 1750 to the Local Council, to which it still belongs. In 1751 a large part of the building was demolished in order to stem the flooding of the Po River. An appraisal done in 1845 showed that, under local council management of the Palazzo, the various rooms remained more or less designated to the same use as previously, with the exception of the inclusion of a theatre in the left wing, designed by Giovan Battista Fattori at the end of the 18th century.
The public weighing house, slaughterhouse, customs house, granaries, and storage house were all located in the Palazzo until the 20th century, when the right wing of the building was turned into a school. In 1970 the Local Council began a series of restoration works aiming at maintaining and recovering the buildings.
The Palazzo, in whose central section one can still see the loopholes of the drawbridge of the ancient castle, is made up of four equal facades of one hundred metres each, with a raised central section.
The exterior, soberly shaped, appears to be markedby a double row of windows and an entrance with three barrel vaults.
The Sala dei Falegnami is located on the ground floor and is used nowadays for debates and conferences. Upstairs are located the Salone dei Giganti (the Giants), the Sala di Icaro (Icarus), the Sala di Giove (Jove), the Sala di Enea (Aeneas), and the family chapel.
The chapel, located next to the Sala di Icaro, has a vaulted ceiling in the middle of which is an octagonal fresco representing the Virgin Mary’s ascension into Heaven. There are also numerous stucco putti, scrolls, festoons, and angels.

Included in the visit of the Palazzo is a guided tour inside which includes the Museo Ligabue, the Tirelli donation, and illustrations of the main monuments.