Boiardo Fortress

The stronghold, first core of the town, was the symbol of political power in Scandiano for eight centuries. The complex includes medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque structures.

Address and contacts

Viale della Rocca - 42019 Scandiano
Phone 0039 0522 764302 / 764303 / 764273 - Scandiano Municipality

Opening times

Opening period
In winter the Fortress is closed to the public.
Approximate opening: from late June to late September.

Prices

Guided tours of the Boiardo Fortress - Casa Spallanzani and the Scandiano tourist routes.
The clock tower is not included in the tour.
Closed shoes are recommended for visiting the Fortress basement.

€ 3.00 - Ticket to visit the Fortress and Spallanzani House 
€ 5.00 - Cumulative ticket for the Fortress + Spallanzani House + Tourist routes
Free - Children and teenagers under 15 and over 65

Payment at the Fortress bookshop, with all information for the tour in safety.

Compulsory reservation (groups of maximum 10 people).
Phone 0039 0522 764302 - 764303 - 764273
From 8.00 a.m. to 12.00 for groups of maximum 10 people.

Access only with guided tour
Sundays and holidays:
10.00 a.m. - 1.00 p.m. / 3.00 – 7.00 p.m. (tours at 10.15 a.m. / 11.30 a.m. / 3.15 p.m. / 5.45 p.m.)
Closed August 15

Recommendation of reinforced shoes for the tour of the Fortress basement.Recommendation of reinforced shoes for the tour of the Fortress basement.

How to get there

Scandiano

By car
From A1 motorway Reggio Emilia exit: take SS467 ringroad towards Scandiano-Sassuolo.
From Modena: take SS486 "Passo delle Radici" road towards Sassuolo, then at Veggia take SS467 road towards Scandiano-Reggio Emilia.

By train
There are local trains to Reggio Emilia-Sassuolo, leaving from the Reggio Emilia Railway Station.

By bus
From Piazzale Europa bus No. 46 line Reggio Emilia-Baiso (Cerredolo)-Carpineti-Castelnovo né Monti.

Historical notes

The Boiardo Fortress, dating back to the XII century, overlooks the town centre and is certainly a monument of great historic and cultural value. Built by the noble Da Fogliano family, today it takes its name from the Boiardo family who lived there from 1423 for 137 years.
Initially built as a place of defense, with walls, moat with adjoining drawbridge and lookout towers, it later became a Renaissance residence, when the government of Scandiano passed under the dominion of the Boiardo family; it was then that Nicolò dell'Abate painted the frescoes by Camerino, with scenes from the Aeneid, moved to the Modena-based Estense Gallery in the late XVIII century.
The Thiene family, who lived there from 1565 for 58 years, made very significant changes to the building and brought it to its current layout, entrusting Giovan Battista Aleotti with the project.
He had the responsibility for the elegant staircase leading to the main floor, the imposing south façade and the completion of the tower to the west.
In the XVII and XVIII centuries the Bentivoglio family and the marquises of Este introduced decorations in the Baroque style.

The numerous changes that the castle has undergone over the centuries make it difficult to understand and read the layout, where several styles coexist: medieval (Pusterla tower of the north entrance and courtyard hanging arches), Renaissance (courtyard portico) and Baroque (staircase, mullioned windows, courtyard architrave, plaster decorations of the Este apartment).
The whole history of Scandiano and its people took place inside the castle: the poet Matteo Maria Boiardo was born in a room on the first floor of the building; in the basement the great scientist Lazzaro Spallanzani used to make his tests, poet Francesco Petrarca, reformer Giovanni Calvino and Pope Paul III stayed at the castle.
Here, October 10, 1796, liberty and Napoleon were praised, and the town joined the Reggio Emilia Republic. Inside this castle, March 11, 1800, a plebiscite proclaimed the annexation of Scandiano to the Kingdom of Sardinia.

Leaving the apartment, you cross a short stretch of the inner courtyard and arrive at the monumental staircase, the work of architect Giovan Battista Aleotti, known as the Argenta.
On the left is a door leading to the castle basement, seat of the old prisons.

The Courtyard
The Fortress courtyard has many architectural elements that testify to the artistic stratifications that have occurred over the centuries.
The south wall still shows a column (from the original XIV-XV centuries portico) with the characteristic capital, in late Medieval style, "in the shape of a water leaf".
The western side highlights (under the last XVIII-century wall) different styles and allows you to recognize, under the pointed arches of the windows, some traces of XVI-century monochrome frescoes.

The Gardens
The redevelopment of the Fortress gardens, completed in 2017, gives visitors a space that had never been open to the public in the past because the Boiardesque complex was a military structure, but also in recent times, after being granted a concession to the Municipality, because the area was completely impassable, full of debris and spontaneous vegetation.
An abandoned and semi-covered area with many cubic metres of ground, on the southwest side of the Fortress, which after a few years of work presents a fascinating alternation of ancient walls and new grassy spaces, slopes and a terrace on the moat: cultural, gastronomic and entertainment events are organized in the redeveloped gardens, and it is also possible to celebrate weddings.
The garden arrangement was completed thanks to important state resources: additional funding is expected, from the Government again, especially on projects related to the towns of the former Este Duchy.

Estense apartment
The rooms on the ground floor, dating back to the XVI century, form the so-called Este apartment modified in its current layout by the Marquises of Este in the early XVIII century.
This path winds through the different rooms, which derive their name from the dominant motif in the decoration.
TheSala dei Gigli (Lily Room), also rich in frescoes with views of Scandiano, by an unknown artist, the Sala del Camino (Chimney Room) in Rococo style and the Sala del Drappo (Drape Room), from the valuable drape surrounding the vault of the sky on the ceiling, the Sala dell'Alcova (Alcove Room), with XVIII-century frescoes with battle scenes and finally the Sala delle Aquile (Eagle Room), located in the body of the tower, where Luigi, Borso, Foresto and Rinaldo d'Este are depicted.
The decorations of these rooms were made by Castellino, a well-known Modena-born sculptor.

Staircase
The monumental staircase of the Fortress was conceived in its original formulation by Giovan Battista Aleotti in the early XVII century.
The "pincer" staircase was built a few years later and was probably commissioned by the Bentivoglio family.
The terracotta statues most likely depict characters from the Thiene family and were made in 1619 by the Genoa-born sculptor Giovan Battista Pontelli.
The four surviving statues probably depict Marcantonio, Octavius I, Julius and Octavius II Thiene.

"Sala del Paradiso" (Paradise Room) educational site
The feud of Scandiano, ruled by the Boiardo Counts from 1423 to 1565, established itself among the Padan courts of the XV and XVI centuries, thanks to the "good government" of its lords, reaching a high level of social and cultural life.
Especially Giulio Boiardo, continuing the work started by his father Giovanni, started the transformation of the town and the embellishment of the fortress: the building, from a primitive medieval fortress intended for defense, was transformed into a sumptuous Renaissance palace decorated with paintings, sculptures, furnishings and valuable furnishings.
During this renewal time, Nicolò dell’Abate's commission to carry out several cycles of frescoes, inside and outside the fortress, was very important.
The frescoes outside the fortress, on the walls of the honour courtyard, are now completely lost.
The presence of Nicolò in Scandiano is documented between 1540 and 1543, and the decoration of the two rooms called Camerino dell'Eneide (Aeneid Room) and Sala del Convito o del Paradiso (Banquet or Paradise Room), in the Count's apartment on the first floor of the building, may be referred to that time.

In 1772 the decorations of the Camerino were removed and transported to Modena by order of Duke Francesco III d’Este. Unknown was also the location of the Sala del Paradiso (Paradise Room), which only recent studies have identified in the room above the entrance tower.
Numerous fragments of this room, all obtained from the demolition of the vault and the plumes on which the vault itself was set, are kept in the Modena-based Estense Gallery: the left part of the ceiling with the Convito di Amore e Psiche (Banquet of Love and Psyche) and the sails with the Musicanti (Musicians).
There is no news of the time when the fragments were removed: probably also in the last quarter of the XVIII century.
The recently found fragments of paintings, surprisingly similar to those kept in Modena, complete the architectural and decorative structure of the Sala del Paradiso (Paradise Room) and allow us to confirm its location inside the Fortress.
Thanks to the intervention of the Florence-based Factory of the Hard Stones, there was the complete restoration of one of the lunettes, working on this as a "pilot object" to develop a methodology that would become a valid working model for the whole cycle, so as to arrive at the drafting of a recovery project for all lunettes and the entire room.

Archive of Reggio Emilia Province © Massimo Dallaglio