Two days in the lands of the Bolognese plain to discover the numerous palaces and villas that stand in these territories.
Historical buildings from different historical periods that tell the story of the civilizations and municipalities that still preserve them.
Some of the villas are private and cannot be visited at the moment, but there are other historical residences that are open to the public.
The first stop of this itinerary is the complex of Villa Ronchi located in Ronchi di Crevalcore.
It is a large country residence owned by the Caprara Counts until 1821, composed of a manor house dating back to the 16th century and an elegant 18th century elliptical church dedicated to San Matteo.
The Villa was used for entertaining and hosting the family's friends: English and Dutch nobles, French and Spanish aristocrats, statesmen and show business personalities took part here in the hunting trips and parties organized in their honor.
Surrounded by four hectares of park, the Villa has a main body, composed of the imposing reception hall, and wings that are developed in length.
The ground floor includes the "hunting area", where there are the "rifles" room, the "breakfast" room and the cellar.
The arcade that connects the kitchens with the garden on the second floor level is decorated with bucolic frescoes by Gianfilippo Usuellini. The main floor is more cosy, with the apartments of the lords and the servants in the west wing, and the guest quarters in the east wing.
Due to earthquake damage, the interior of the villa is inaccessible, but it is possible to visit the beautiful park that surrounds it. Here demonstrations and events of various kinds are held very frequently, organized by the Association "I Sempar in Baraca", in collaboration with the Municipal Institution Paolo Borsellino.
From Crevalcore, we move on to Bentivoglio, which is the location of two other historical residences: Bentivoglio Castle and Palazzo Rosso.
The Castle of Bentivoglio was built between 1475 and 1481 in what was then Ponte Poledrano by the noble Bolognese family from which it takes its name. This residence was also used to host the moments of leisure of the family and friends during hunting and fishing trips.
The building has the characteristics of a typical Renaissance country residence: a square plan, comfortable rooms with large windows, large porticoes, a vast courtyard, and stables.
In 1506, due to the fall of the Bentivoglio family, the castle passed into the hands of the Pepoli family, who redesigned the building and turned it into a two-sided, open villa; walls and moats disappeared, the castle became the home of farming families and its rooms became warehouses, animal shelters and tanneries.
In 1889 the new owner, Carlo Alberto Pizzardi, commissioned Rubbiani to restore the castle. Although he tried to rebuild the castle as the original one, the restoration gave back a building with a strong nineteenth-century imprint. During the World Wars the castle was turned into a field hospital and a cinema, but in 1945 it was seriously damaged by the loss of the fourteenth-century tower.
In its interiors, there are wonderful sixteenth-century frescoes and more recent decorations in Æmilia Ars style that tell the story of this place: in the suggestive room of the "Storie del Pane" [Stories of Bread] it is possible to admire the frescoes that illustrate the rural life of Bentivoglio's territories, while in the chapel and in other rooms there are decorations that recall the symbolism and the religious life of this Bolognese Noble Family.
Today the castle is home to the research laboratories of the "Ramazzini" Cancer Research Institute and is used as a location for various cultural events organized by the Municipality of Bentivoglio, including the "Festival di musica da camera" [Chamber Music Festival], for which guided tours are also organized.
The second historical residence in Bentivoglio not to be missed is Palazzo Rosso.
This is one of the most famous examples of the Bolognese Liberty style. It was built in 1887 by the Marquis Carlo Aberto Pizzardi as a manor house. The building has preserved the decorations representing scenes of typical life of the marshy area and natural-inspired decorations depicted with elegance and simplicity, made by Achille Casanova from a design by Augsto Sezanne.
A masterpiece of decoration is the "Sala dello Zodiaco", carried out between 1896 and 1897 by Augusto Sezanne and used as a sundial by Carlo Alberto Pizzardi for the consultation and interpretation of the sky. Considered one of the best expressions of the Æmilia Ars, the room has on the ceiling the representation of the earth's evolution and the moon phases together with the stylization of the Sun; on the walls, starting from the top to the bottom according to a clear separation between three different levels, the signs of the zodiac are depicted,along with the marshy air typical of this area with its birds and the water rich in fish and vegetation.
Today Palazzo Rosso is the home of the Municipal Library, the Hall of the City Council and is a place of cultural activities. The structure can be visited freely during the opening hours of the Municipal Library.
The tour continues in Casalecchio di Reno, where there is Palazzo Boschi-Rivani-Garagnani, which has now become the Casa Museo Nena [Museum House Nena]. Inside the palace, visitors are taken on an emotional journey through three centuries of history.
The palace has the typical layout of the Bolognese villas, with a loggia passing through and lateral rooms both on the ground and second floor. The central body is surrounded by two symmetrical lateral bodies, as well as an Italian garden on the eastern side. It has inside a ceiling with nineteenth-century decorations, an altar with polychrome scagliola paliotto, Carpi art of the eighteenth century, a chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the loggia.
The first information about the Palace, which belonged to the Boschi family, dates back to the end of the seventeenth century. In the early nineteenth century, together with the farm that surrounded it, it became the property of the noble Rivani family.
In 1937, at the death of the noblewoman Angiolina Garagnani, widow of Angelo Rivani, the palace was inherited by her nephew Count Vincenzo Garagnani, to whom we owe a further restoration after the damages caused by the Second World War. Two daughters, Maria Maddalena and Maria Letizia, were born from the marriage. It is from the first of the two daughters, nicknamed "Nena", that the new House Museum takes its name.
The museum is a project created in order to bring back the ancient splendor of the Palace, sharing the beauty of paintings, ceramics, furniture and memories carefully conserved.
The itinerary ends in the municipality of Zola Predosa, 12 km from the center of Bologna, where there is Villa Edvige Garagnani. It was built in the second half of the 18th century and is an excellent example of a bourgeois residence used as a holiday home.
During the nineteenth century, on the initiative of the Pancaldi, Giusti or Garagnani families, who were the owners, the building was considerably enlarged. Inside the building there are examples of free columns, a typical element of the Bolognese architectural tradition that gives monumental breath to the rooms.
Particular attention should be paid to the decorations that are still preserved in the eastern passing loggia, where the use of trompe l'oeil tools opens the walls on illusory landscapes, and the woodland frescoes, attributed to the painter Antonio Basoli.
Since 1971 it has been municipal property. Recently renovated, today it hosts the UIT office of the Bolognese hills, involved in the valorization of the territory. The villa is the host of cultural, enogastronomic and musical events, such as "Zola Jazz & Wine", an important event where jazz expressions mix with the aroma of the excellent wines of the surrounding area.