Imola and Dozza, once ruled by Caterina Sforza, offer an interesting chance to get in touch with the traces left by noble families, who lived in Imola's territory.
Here is a 24h itinerary, to rediscover the ordinary and everyday life of the old times, through the architectures that witnessed the passage of great personalities who made history.
Majestic defensive fortress, surrounded by a deep moat, Imola Fortress “Rocca” perfecly represents defensive architecture of the end of the 15th Century.
Its building dates back to 1261 but, thanks to the Sforza family's dominion and especially a push by Caterina, the “Romagna Lioness”, Rocca of Imola became a Renaissance Fort, able to resist even the bombarding of cannon shots. The innovation in the structure consisted in a new rounded shape in the place of the ancient squared towers, which were eventually integrated into the more modern towers.
It was 1502 when Leonardo da Vinci was invited to go through the many fortresses covering Romagna, to evaluate their military features and faults. Of course he visited Imola, too, and left a prized trace of his stay: a hand-drawn map of the city, which is considered to be the first one with polar vision and where the fortress stands as a key element for Imola.
Once inside the fortress, you will feel surrounded by a timeless atmosphere: inner courtyards and walks along the walls will unveil the secrets of the mostly military activities which took place here.
A prized collection of weapons and ceramics, found during renovations and archaeological works, are kept in the most central room of the castle.
There are two ways to visit the Fortress: on your own during opening times, or being guided by augmented reality. Thanks to a free App, visitors will be guided by no less than Leonardo da Vinci himself: a guided visit rich in stories about the Master’s stay in Imola, about architectural and defensive features and the historical happenings of the Riario and Sforza families.
Leaving Imola Fortress behind, it is time to enter Imola's historical centre.
The short walk passes by San Cassiano Cathedral, proudly standing in front of the Episcopal Palace.
If you wish to understand better the history and happenings of this Roman city, a visit to Palazzo Tozzoni cannot be missed. It was here where, at the beginning of the 15th Century, the Tozzoni family decided to move and lived here for over five centuries. The palace perfectly preserves the fascination of noble houses, whose spaces are divided into public rooms where guests were welcomed, private apartments and areas dedicated to domestic activities. An important testimony of modus vivendi, told through furniture, pieces of art and an internal courtyard.
This inner courtyard is the first visual impact for the visitor entering Palazzo Tozzoni: the well in the middle and the climbing plants over the walls suggest that time has stopped here.
Last stop of this day itinerary is the enchanting borgo of Dozza, on the Imola hills heading to Bologna. Here too, the traces of Sforza dominion and Campeggi Malvezzi Counts are visible in Dozza Fortress.
Along the visitors’ path inside of this precious house museum, it is possible to relive the historical happenings and see the evolution of the architecture, according to the changing living necessities.
The original medieval core is preserved in the external fortified towers, while today’s appearance of the Fortress can be dated to the late 15th Century, when Dozza became part of the Riario-Sforza Signoria.
The following Renaissance period transformed the Rocca into a home, but it did not leave behind the defensive factor. During this charming historical moment, the protagonists in Dozza are the Campeggi Counts, donating the symmetrical harmony of the architecture.
The last structural changes date back to the late 18th and 19th Centuries: Malvezzi Campeggi families, new owners of the home, add new rooms and settings, adapting old spaces to new activities, creating the amazing example of a noble home we can still admire today.
The visit to Dozza Fortress is also perfect for kids: a special “notebook” is available at the ticket office. It will guide the young visitors through the rooms and introduce them to many interesting and funny characters. The most fascinating is surely Fyrstan the Dragon, sleeping in the central tower of the Fortress: he wakes up every two years, in occasion of Fantastika, a festival dedicated to the mystical world of fantasy. There are many possibile activities and workshops for children.
Dozza Fortress does not only represent the starting point for visiting the Painted Walls Town, but offers also numerous delicious suggestions for foodies: the basement of the fortress hosts the Emilia Romagna regional Wine Cellar, the perfect place to get to know and explore Emilia Romagna through the excellence of local wine productions.