Probably built on a Roman settlement, whose presence is confirmed by archaeological remains found on the hills of Montegibbio, was governed by the Canossa family until the first decade of the year 1000. It became then a free municipality. During the 15th century was firstly conquered by the Della Rosa and, afterwards, by the Este family, who gave it to the Pio of Carpi and then retook it in 1599. The period the Este ruled the city represented the time of its greatest economic and artistic growth, as made clear by the amazing Palace, which was transformed from Castle into the Este Delight under the domain of Duke Francesco I.
The Ducal Palace, also known as the “Delight of the Duke of Este” (the summer residence and official seat of the court), it is one of the most important baroque residences in northern Italy. Its current appearance dates back to 1634, when Duke Francesco I d’Este commissioned the best artists of the time, like Bartolomeo Avanzini and Gaspare Vigarani, to transform the ancient and massive castle into the ducal residence. The palace, situated in the Secchia valley, was surrounded by a giant park enriched by fountains. Richly and beautifully decorated (inside and outside) by important artists such as Jean Boulanger, Angelo Michele Colonna, Agostino Mitelli, it enchanted the duke’s guests, among them Queen Cristina of Sweden and the Spanish painter Diego Velázquez.
The Ducal Palace was famous for its park and the Italian style gardens. The Park is nowadays far smaller as it was in the past: during the 18th century it stretched for more than 12 km, joining the hills with the northernmost plains near Magreta. Apart from being a “garden”, it was used by the court and their guests for hunting. There was also an area for cattle breeding and sheep farming. Small buildings enclosed to it were then used for resting, like the Casiglia and the Belvedere of S. Michele. Everything changed when the French came: the secular woods were razed, and the park was divided. At the entrance of the garden, on the south side of the Palace, stands the Peschiera (also known as “Fontanazzo/fish farm”): the monumental water theatre designed by Bartolomeo Avanzini and Gaspare Vigarani (1650) with the help of many specialists. This monumental fountain, made of raw materials like tuff, had to resemble a country home in ruin.
The Cavallerizza Ducale was built between 1781 and 1788 on commission by Duke Ercole Rinaldo III to remedy the lack of stables and lodgings for the “Dragoni Ducali” (armed corps) that followed the Estense Court when moving to the palace in Sassuolo. This building today houses the first museum dedicated to contemporary ceramic art: the Museo Bertozzi & Casoni, which brings together some of the most famous works of the artists Giampaolo Bertozzi and Stefano Dal Monte Casoni. It’s a unique exhibition of its kind, at times surreal, thanks to the placing together of objects and animals that seem real, alive, such is the artistic skill in each single detail.
The current shape of Piazza Garibaldi, known as “little square”, dates back to 16th century, when Alessandro Pio ordered its construction by building on its sides the Palazzo della Ragione and the Osteria della Posta. In 1676 Francesco II of Este commissioned the ducal architect Antonio Loraghi to build the City Tower, known as the “campanone”. Twenty years after, the theatre. Piazza Garibaldi is currently what the ducal architect Pietro Bezzi (under Francesco III’s domain) realized in 1775: arcades on the three sides and the two little canals. These canals are the last two remaining canals of the uncovered aqueduct which used to cross the city’s historic old town.
In Piazza Garibaldi, right in the heart of Sassuolo, you should not miss a visit to the ancient Drogheria Roteglia, a Historical Workshop founded in 1848. The original furniture, the jars full of candies, the aroma of wood and spicy fragrances melted with the flavour of coffee and the creaking wood, will transport you back in time. Here you could taste the typical Sassuolo liqueurs, as Nocino and Sassuolino, produced with a traditional method by the Roteglia 1848 factory, which is close to the shop. It is a unique opportunity to enjoy an authentic atmosphere and to look at old photographs while sipping a good cup of coffee.
Tradition and unexpected meetings create excellent products, as Sassolino and Nocino.
Sassolino is a star anise (from China imported)-flavoured liqueur. On the other hand, Nocino: an infusion of unripe walnuts (harvested at the end of June), aged for at least 2 years with spices and herbs. Like the worldwide known and loved Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, Lambrusco and Parmigiano Reggiano, the before mentioned liqueurs are protected under the PDO symbol.
The Nature Itinerary along the Secchia River gives everyone the opportunity to do outdoor leisure and sport activities just by walking, running or cycling far from the city traffic to discover the natural charm of the river landscape.
The Mud Volcanoes Route is an emotional journey that connects places and excellences through the geological phenomenon of mud volcanoes, known as “Salse”, which are present in the districts of Maranello, Fiorano Modenese, Sassuolo and Viano. The Salse of Nirano is one of the most important in Italy and among the most complex in Europe.
Concentrated in just a few tens of kilometres, Ceramicland is home to numerous producers of Italian ceramic tiles: a worldwide known product, basically for its beauty and high quality. This enormous technological and scientific area is now opening its doors for the first time to visitors, offering them the opportunity for having access to laboratories and facilities to learn about the origins and the characteristics of this product.
MONTEGIBBIO: the name Montegibbio comes from the Latin words “mons gibbus/gibulus”, which means bumpy mount: a clear reference to the hills where the castle is located, approximately 6 km outside Sassuolo.The Castle of Montegibbio is currently not open to the public. It was probably firstly realized at the beginning of 10th century and has belonged to the Municipality of Sassuolo since 1972. The court houses the Municipal Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Farm, which may be visited upon request (info: 0536880801). The fortress is surrounded by the park of Montegibbio (open all year round): a romantic English style garden which extends for approximately 30 hectares with its ancient trees, hornbeams, hazelnut trees, chestnut trees, oak trees.
SALVAROLA TERME, on the hills, 3 km from Sassuolo, 8 from Maranello and 20 from Modena. Its waters and mud are known since Roman age, have been used by Matilda of Canossa in the Middle Age and by the Este family during Renaissance. All classical thermal cures are available in the ancient Liberty building, dating back to 1908. Balnea SPA, 2300 sqm of wellness, with thermal pools at various temperatures, sauna, steam room, relaxation area, solarium, 4 gyms and Sensorial Beauty Center. Open 7 days on 7.