Heading towards north, after a visit to a friend’s house near Monzuno, we decided to stay a little longer in the area and to visit Grizzana Morandi and the surrounding places. As it often happens, you never know what surprises are around the corner! In our case it was the Rocchetta Mattei. Hard to believe that this surrealistic castle is just a few kilometers from Bologna!
We arrive in Grizzana Morandi, intrigued by the name but without knowing the history of the place. As we enter the village we realize that there is a connection to the famous painter Giorgio Morandi; following the signs we get to his house, which is actually transformed into a museum [44.26291,11.14939].
Unfortunately the house-museum was closed. As we learned later you have to take an appointment at the town hall to visit it! Slightly disappointed we decided to walk around and to visit the Fienili del Campiaro, a complex of farm buildings just outside the village. These farm houses are often present in various paintings of Morandi. They are perfectly restored and houses an art gallery, an inn and the headquarters of the museum of Cesare Mattei (we’ll say a little more about him later on).
Even here, however, we found everything closed! It’s quite obvious that the timing is wrong We went back to the village and following the signs for the parking lot, we arrived in this spacious flat area with nice view [44.25505,11.1501]. We left our camper van and we walked around the village, that, sad to say, has nothing much to offer.
In the picture on bottom right you can see the town library.
We left Grizzana going up towards the north. After just a few kilometers we stopped in La Scola of Vimignano, a worth-visiting village according to a keen employee of the Grizzana town hall. At the entrance of the village there is a sign indicating to turn left for the parking lots and right for the village. We did the mistake to go towards the village where we realized that the road came to a dead-end (not signed!) Don’t do the same, go directly to to parking lots [44.2139,11.07304] and just walk the few meters to the village.
The origins of La Scola date back to the sixth century although its present day appearance, preserved in excellent condition, comes from the XIV century. It doesn’t take more than 20 minutes to wander throughout it from one end to the other, even assuming that you somehow manage to get lost. The village seemed empty, with no one around. It looked more like a museum than a real village, but even in this case it is a gem that deserves to be visited.
We left La Scola pleased with what we saw, but not really satisfied. All in all, when you explore one “museum-village” after another in the end you feel fed up. The first is always beautiful, after the fifth which is more or less the same, you start to need something different!
This time, the ‘different’ was not far away! On our way to Riola, we saw a Disneyland-style castle that stood in the middle of plowed fields and factories.
The castle was Rocchetta Mattei [44.22344,11.05854], of the history of which we were ignorant until a few days ago. And what a fascinating history it has! It was created by the mysterious Count Cesare Mattei, a personality that is worth to be studied in detail. We can briefly say here that he lived in the 19th century and he was actively involved in alternative medicine; he invented Electrohomeopathy, an innovative cancer (among other diseases) cure, and apparently he had numerous followers like the Czar of Russia and other nobles…
The castle exteriors are more than impressive. Pity we didn’t manage to see the interiors too... The Rocchetta is open only on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10.00 – 15.00 and it can be visited exclusively by guided tours booked in advance (duration of the visit: one hour). It is rather difficult to find a place, as there are usually “sold out” for at least a couple of weeks. The cost for the tour is 7 € per person. We will come back for sure!
We move a few hundred meters and stopped in the parking lot [44.22946,11.05539] to admire another particularity of Riola. The modern church of Santa Maria Assunta, designed by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.
As it was getting late, we decided to leave right after our visit to the church, although we would like to stay there for the night. The church would be much more beautiful seen in the morning light. However, the parking lot of the church didn’t seem very suitable for an overnight stay so we decided to move to the camper stop of Vergato.
When we arrived there [44.28875,11.11255] it was already dark. We soon realized that it was impossible to stay there for the night. It was too noisy and, to make matters worse, next to the town’s biological sewage treatment… We found refuge in the downtown parking area of the Coop supermarket [44.27959,11.11075] where we spend a quiet night in the company of two other campers. In the morning, we went again to the camper stop for the services. Everything worked perfectly and it was free of charge although a little dirty …