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Cultural park dedicated to Ariosto and Boiardo

The route starts from the historic centre of Reggio Emilia in the Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square).


Here you can find the maternal home of Ariosto. Continue towards the Giardini Pubblici (Public Gardens) where the ancient Citadell stood, where it is said Ariosto was born and where Matteo Maria Boiardo was captain of the Reggiana seat of the Este Duchy: A few kilometres from the centre, towards Modena, in the locality of San Maurizio, is the 15th century villa where Ariosto stayed for some time. Continuing on towards the hills you come to Scandiano where the Rocca Fortress stands: this is where Boiardo was born and who often spoke of the Tresinaro which regularly flooded the city. Further up, on Mount Ventoso you find Villa Torricella, Boiardo’s summer residence. Following the via pedemontana (foothills) you arrive at Montericco, where you can admire the Church of Santa Maria dell’Uliveto (Saint Mary of the Olive Grove), where Ariosto was invested with a pension from the parish. A short distance away is Monte Jaco where Ariosto often spent the hot summers. The route ends in Canossa, where Ariosto was captain of the Fortress.

Reggio Emilia - Case Malaguzzi. In the heart of the historic centre, on the corner between Via Palazzolo and Via delle Rose, two steps away from the Piazza del Duomo, stand two houses from the historic Reggian family of Malaguzzi (Daria Malaguzzi was Ludovic Ariosto’s mother. This is commemorated on a placque on the facade). The only part remaining from the time of the poet is the angel with the shield, which was the insignia of the House. The Malaguzzi also had a house on the corner between Via del Cristo and Via Fornaciari and here, on the basis of rather flimsy evidence, it is supposed that the poet may have been born on the 8th November 1474.

Reggio Emilia - Parco della Cittadella. In the area now occupied by the public gardens, that date back to the middle of the 19th century, there once stood the ancient citadel, a fortified castle backing onto the city walls, that the Gonzaga family had built, starting in 1339, as a seat of lordly power. Here Matteo Maria Boiardo was captain of the Reggiana seat of the Este Duchy from 1487 until he died (and was an active and ready defender of the city against the French army of Charles VIII in 1494): And it is here that Ludovico Ariosto may well have been born, since his father, a functionary of the Court of the Ducal House of Este, was at that time the commander of the garrison of Reggio.In a corner of the Gardens, not far from the imposing Monument to the Concordians of Roman times, the statues of the two poets are placed together.

Reggio Emilia - San Maurizio. Along Via Emilia, in the locality of San Maurizio, a big 16th century terracotta archway opens into a tree-lined avenue leading to the Mauriziana, the country villa of the Malaguzzi (maternal family of Ludovico Ariosto) where the poet, worn out by the engagements of the court, spent pleasant holidays, subsequently recorded in his IV Satire: “Già mi fur dolci inviti a empir le carte/li luoghi ameni di che il nostro Reggio, / il natio nido mio, n’ha la sua parte:/il tuo Maurician sempre vagheggio,/la bella stanza, il rodano vicino…” ( here Ariosto refers to the much appreciated invitation to stay in Reggio, the place of his birth and dwells fondly on his memories of happy times spent in the Mauriziana in a beautiful room near the river Rodano). In the east wing of the building you can admire the “Room of the Poets”, the “Room of Orazi and Curiazi” (legendary figures of ancient Rome) and the “Room of Ariosto” with affrescoes from the 16th century.

Scandiano – La Rocca. The building found today is the result of successive architectural operations of medieval (the original structure dates back to the 13th century), renaissance and baroque design. Francesco Tetrarca, stayed there, Matteo Maria Boiardo was born there, in 1500 it was transformed into the sumptious palace of the Count Giulio Boiardo and hosted Pope Paul III Farnese and the great reformer John Calvin. In the basement, scientist Lazzaro Spallanzani from Scandiano conducted his experiments. The rooms of greatest artistic merit are the Appartamento Estense, the most refined in all the fortress, created at the beginning of the 18th century and recently restored.Scandiano – VentosoOn the hills of Ventoso, the Torricella was built sometime after 1335 by Da Fogliano family. The Boiardo family, having become the lords of Scandiano, transformed it into a summer retreat and here, tradition has it that Matteo Maria Boiardo composed part of his poem: The Castle, by then reduced to a crumbling tower, was sold by the community in 1861 to professor Prospero Cugini. The new owner entrusted the restoration work, started in 1864, to the architect Cesare Costa (Pievepelago, 1801 – Modena 1876) whose project restored the structure to its original semblance of a medieval fortress. The Castle, now a private property, is considered a national monument, like the Castle of Canossa.

Scandiano – The Tresinaro. The Tresinaro Torrent, that “bathes the soil of Scandiano and Aceto and flows into the Secchia near Rubiera”, probably inspired Boiardo to write the lines "”Come di verno, nel tempo guazoso,/giù de un gran monte viene un fiume in volta, che va sopra la ripa ruinoso,/ grosso di pioggia e di neve disciolta: Cotal veniva quel re furioso,/ con ira grande e con tempesta molta…” (he describes the river as a raging torrent swollen by rains and melted snow). Boiardo referred to the Tresinaro in the second Latin eclogue just as he named it in the letters along with the Riotorto, the Canale di Secchia and the Crostolo. Still in the letters he names many places in the territory of Scandiano, such as Aceto, Fellegara, Dinazzano, Jano, Sabbione, Montebabbio, Rondinara, Salvatela, Pratissolo and others.

Albinea – Montericco. Chiesa di S. Maria dell’Uliveto (Saint Mary of the Olive Grove) The church of Santa Maria dell’Uliveto is situated at the beginning of the hinterland of the foothills of Albinea. In April of 1506, Ludovico Ariosto was invested with a pension from the parish, but he was not the only one to enjoy these rights. The Count Ercole Manfredi had exercised them before him and reclaimed the entitlement for himself. After a brief controversy, Ariosto renounced his rights. Noble gesture? Probably no because he was offered in exchange a richer pension in the diocese of Ferrara. The church of Santa Maria dell’Uliveto still has the medieval internal structure preserved with frescoes on the walls with images attributable to the 16th century. The characteristic which gives it name to the place and also to the church are the olive trees which at that time covered many of the hills of Albinea.AlbineaMonte Jaco“… non mi si può de la memoria torre/le vigne e i solchi del fecondo Jaco,/la valle e il colle e la ben posta torre…”. (talking of memories of the vines and furrows of the fertile land of Jaco with its hills and valleys and well-placed tower) With these words in his IV satire Ariosto refers to the landscape around Mount Jaco (or Monteiatico), situated on the right side of the Crostolo, between the castle of Albinea and the old church of Puianello. In his youth, the poet often left Ferrara and many times returned to his place of origin, guest of his Malaguzzi cousins (to which noble family his mother Daria belonged) in their Monte Jaco properties, on the Albinean hillsides: an area characterised by a sand and shingle terrain, that accommodated multifarious vineyards. Here a marble landmark was erected in 1933, marking the land that the poet owned in these places.

Canossa - Matilde’s Castle. From April of 1502 to January and maybe even October of the following year, Ariosto was captain of the Fortress of Canossa. Even then, due to its tormented past, the architectural condition of the ancient matildic castle must have been most precarious. The archeological digs, started in the 19th century, brought to light remains that are not always easily interpreted. The area preserves now, as then, the fascination of a landscape that is among the most significant of the region. The nature of the terrain has strongly conditioned the settlement, creating conditions favourable for the formation of deep gullies. The same terrain has given rise to an apparently bleak landscape, predominantly grassland that in the past was used as meagre pasturage. The woods appear only in the valley.