Gualtieri is located in the northern part the province of Reggio Emilia.
The town was established in the centre of the Po Valley, on the banks of the Po River, at the time of the Signorias (noble families). Key historical dates are 1479, when the town definitively came under the possession of the Este family from Ferrara and July 24, 1567, when Alfonso D’Este granted investiture to the faithful Cornelio Bentivoglio, general lieutenant of the Ferrara State. Thanks to Bentivoglio, large-scale reclamation works began, and the main structures are relevant and efficient today.
In Piazza Bentivoglio is the Palace of the same name, together with the collegiate Church of Santa Maria Della Neve and the Civic Tower. The square is perfect as it measures one hundred metres on each side, crowned on three sides by airy porticoes with 69 arches. It has both Renaissance and Baroque elements.
Palazzo Bentivoglio was built between 1594 and 1600 by Ippolito, who incorporated the “Casa Vecchia” (Old Home) of his father Cornelio. The building originally had four 90-metre-long brickwork façades, the same as those visible now. On the top floor is the magnificent Salone dei Giganti, frescoed with scenes taken from “Jerusalem Delivered” by Torquato Tasso, the Sala dell'Eneide, the Sala di Icaro, the Sala di Giove and the Cappella Gentilizia. The building hosts the Antonio Ligabue Foundation Museum and the Collection of the tailor Umberto Tirelli.
Gualtieri is the birthplace of one of the most important “Naive Art” painters of the XX century: Antonio Ligabue.
In September, during the event “Viaggio a Gualtieri” (Journey to Gualtieri), the town opens its doors to all travellers. Culture, landscape, adventures in the floodplains, adventures, food and wine, performances, and guided tours are just a taste of the many events planned to discover the town and its surroundingarea.
Antonio Ligabue Foundation Museum, the Palazzo Bentivoglio-based permanent museum.
"Antonio Ligabue” House Museum", a Gualtieri-based house where the painter Antonio Ligabue lived and worked.
Fogarina is a variety of local wine grape; until the early XX century was very widespread and is now being revamped and given ministerial recognition.
The XVIII-century theatre of Palazzo Bentivoglio is today the Teatro Sociale (Social Theatre): it promotes theatre and musical performances, also contemporary ones. It is also known as the inverted theatre as the stalls and the stage are inverted. It is a physical and conceptual inversion at the same time.
The Gualtieri floodplain offers many possibilities from a naturalistic point of view in different seasons of the year. The area between the main embankment and the riverbed of the Po is very complex and diversified, including natural and anthropological aspects.
Until not long ago, the Po River and its floodplain were very crowded; many people worked and lived in these woods (fishermen, millers on the Po River, farmers, ferrymen, washerwomen, laborers in the quarries), including the famous painter and sculptor Antonio Ligabue in some of the most dramatic moments of his life.
The Gualtieri floodplain is divided into “closed” and “open” parts, separated by an embankment called a “golenale” of about 1 m lower than the main embankment. The closed part between the two embankments is characterized by crop farming, with a number of farmhouses and a XVIII-century hamlet, once inhabited by the “Sabiaroli”. In this area is a protected natural area in what was once an old clay quarry called “I Caldarèn”. The open part, towards the river, is occupied by large extensions of poplar forests often interrupted by patches of scrubland composed of native plants, lakes formed in abandoned quarries, skeps and oxbow lakes in which various animal and vegetable species live and reproduce. It is possible to see wonderful natural landscapes following the cycle path that links Gualtieri to Boretto and Guastalla, such as the Isola degli Internati, the Lago azzurro (Blue Lake), the Caldarèn, via Alzaia, the Piattello quarry and, in the floodplain, the beautiful profile of the towers of Gualtieri rising above the main embankment: it is a charming landscape where nature and architecture are in harmony. The long Viale Po flanked by cypress poplars links directly to the centre of Gualtieri on the right bank of the Po River.
Festa del Pozzo (Festival of the Well) third weekend of June
Dances, musical performances, gastronomic events.
Journey to Gualtieri - September
Culture, landscape, food and wine. Performances, concerts, extraordinary openings, guided tours, dinners and nature trails to discover and rediscover the hidden places and stories of one of the most beautiful villages of Italy.
October Festival - third Sunday of October
Tastings and sale of local food and wine products, funfair, market and cooking of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
A few kilometres from Gualtieri it is possible to find Santa Vittoria, a village known for its traditional watermelons, where the majestic Palazzo Greppi is worth a tour.