Wonder  }  Archaeology

Rocchetta Mattei

A unique place where everything seems to be possible

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Where is


46A, Via Rocchetta, 40030 Grizzana Morandi BO, Italia (290m s.l.m.)


What it is and where it is

When you see it popping up among the trees, from the top of the hill on which it is perched, your first thought is that you are a prey to your own imagination, or that you have accidentally found a small fairy-tale-style amusement park. Indeed, the various knights, wayfarers and maidens who arrived at the king's or wizard's castle must have felt just as we did at the foot of Rocchetta Mattei. And in reality as in fairy tales, as you get closer you find that this place made of towers, bridges, golden domes, bold colors and geometries is absolutely real.

Why it is special

Its patron and first inhabitant was certainly not a king, but he had a noble title and being the owner of the land around here he could behave at least like a feudal lord. He was also a researcher, an innovator who gave birth to electromeopathy, a new healing discipline. His house therefore, could not be out done. The structure of the castle is the classical one, several buildings perched on a hill, but all the architectural and decorative details are in the Moorish style and in some rooms, even Art Nouveau. Beware though, not everything you see is real: many details are made of materials such as paper and cloth, authentic architectural toys to amaze anyone who lays eyes on it.

Not to be missed

In a place where everything is made to surprise and stimulate the imagination, there is not a single corner that can be said to be inferior to the others. Every shape is mysterious and captivating at the same time. We could spend hours enchanted by the play of arches in the chapel, or the reproduction of the Alhambra in the lions' garden, not to mention the study, with that ceiling of inverted pyramids, or the hall of 90, sumptuous ode to Art Nouveau and the joie de vivre of an 87-year-old who was planning his 90th birthday party right here with 89 other peers. The best advice? Eyes wide open. Everything here is fascinating, mysterious and never seen before!

A bit of history

Count Cesare Mattei built his fairy-tale castle in Grizzana Morandi, near Bologna, in the mid-19th century. The beauty of the place and the fame of the owner meant that Rocchetta hosted such illustrious figures as Tsar Alexander II and the writer Fedor Dostoevsky. Upon his death in 1896 at age 87, the Rocchetta passed to his adopted son and his family, but after 1950 the mansion and entered a phase of decline and neglect, only to be purchased by the Caribo Foundation, restored and opened to the public in 2015.


Dostoevsky spoke of the Bolognese count's medicines in The Brothers Karamazov, telling that the devil himself used them to remedy rheumatism. And their fame endures to this day: Count Mattei's cures are still used in Pakistan and India.

Rocchetta MatteiCesare Mattei depicted in one of the stained glass windows in the Hall of Ninety

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Rocchetta Mattei is a touch of magic in the landscape of the Reno Valleys, halfway between Vergato and Lake Suviana, it is something that seems to come out of fairy tales and suddenly appears in front of you and you have to look at it twice to understand that it is real.


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