City tour

Gualtieri is a classic example of a small Renaissance capital in the Po Valley.
42044 Gualtieri

 

No concrete information concerning human settlements is available up to the period of the Roman Empire, as demonstrated by archaeological finds concentrated in the area around the present Palazzina, the site indicated as the first stable dwelling-place of the likely colonizers of the time. The name Gualtieri (Castrum Walterii) appears only much later, when the residence of Longobardo Gualtiero was founded in the 7th century.            
In the centre of the town’s main square, whose size is comparable to that of major European cities and is the meeting place for the entire community, is Palazzo Bentivoglio. The Palazzo was built between 1594 and the early 1600s by Ippolito, the firstborn son of Conelio, descendent of the Bentivoglio of Aragon family. The life and splendour of the residence were subject to a series of alternating fortunes: in 1726 the structure was still intact, while in 1751 three-quarters of it was demolished in order to embank the Po River. At the beginning of the 1900s the right wing of the building was used as a school and was subdivided into a number of rooms destined for civilian habitation. The first floor remains the best-preserved section and the most interesting in artistic terms. This has made the Palazzo a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.
A visit to Gualtieri must include Piazza Bentivoglio, with the residence of the same name on the east side, the Collegiata di Santa Maria della Neve on the south side, and the town tower (torre civica) on the west side. The façades of the buildings along via Vittoria Emanuele II, which winds its way from the tower, are embellished with lovely wrought iron balconies. Walking along the street one finds, on the right halfway down, the church of the Immacolata Concezione and across from this and to the left, the tree-lined avenue that leads to Villa Guarenti.
The earliest information concerning this villa, also known as “la Palazzina”, dates back to the 14th century when the Torello di Ferrara family began building the two-storey rectangular structure. The residence was enlarged in the late 1700s when a third floor and large halls were added.
The Torello family was succeeded by the Malaspina Guarienti family, the present owners of the villa. Because it remains a private residence only the exterior of the villa can be seen.
Continuing down the road, on the left is Piazza Felice Cavalotti, where a restored 18th century well is located.

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