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The small capitals of the Renaissance

The small capitals of the Renaissance

Ancient lordships that characterized art and culture places and territories not far from the city of Reggio, and that still retain the sign of past glory ...

In the plain between Modena and Reggio Emilia, at the time of the Renaissance,  spread a constellation of small capital marked by a magnificent heritage of urban scenes, palaces and churches, which still fascinates the visitor who admires them in all their beauty. These small capital, which during the Italian Renaissance have characterized art and culture of places and territories not far from the city of Reggio, are in addition to Scandiano, we know well and we have already spoken of: Correggio, Gualtieri, Guastalla, Novellara and San Martino in Rio. Famous artists attend these courts, or even  were born or lived here, such as: the painters  Antonio Allegri (known as Correggio ) and Lelio Orsi,  the poets Boiardo and Ariosto, the sculptor Leone Leoni, and the writers Aretino, Tasso and Bembo. Despite their autonomy is over for a long time, these ancient lordships still retain the sign of past glory.


Feud of the homonymous family, Correggio is a delightful town that gave birth to the painter Antonio Allegri (1489) and was the destination of many poets including Ariosto. 1009 dates back to the first document in which reference is made to the Da Correggio, the House who ruled over this territory continuously for about seven centuries, reaching its peak with Nicolò da Correggio (1450-1508), Veronica Gambara (1485-1550) and the painter Correggio (1489 / 1494-1534). Urbanistically completed in the seventeenth century, Correggio has a well-preserved old town full of squares and churches. Among its monuments and places of interest should be reported: Princes' Palace, as well as the most representative Renaissance building of the city of Ferrara influence, with a beautiful portal with Renaissance grotesques, where the Civic Museum il Correggio is housed today ; the Basilica of San Quirino, dedicated to the patron saint of the city; Correggio Art Home, located in the restored rooms of the birthplace of Correggio; and the Teatro Bonifazio Asioli, rebuilt in the mid-nineteenth century.


Feud of Bentivoglio, already lords of Bologna, Gualtieri is a classic example of small capital Po Renaissance. It is a country rich in history and represents a real masterpiece of urbanism and architecture of the late sixteenth century. His name appears for the first time during the Lombard domination as "Castrum Vultureno" and then as "Castrum Walterii", a name which, according to historians would be linked to the Lombard Gualtiero, sent by King Agilulfo in 602 to conquer Mantova. Of particular interest is Piazza Bentivoglio, among the most beautiful of Italy, which was built between 1580 and 1610 by the Ferrara architect Giovan Battista Aleotti said Argenta. At the center of the beautiful square stands the Palazzo Bentivoglio, built between 1594 and the early 1600's by Ippolito, the eldest son of Cornelio Bentivoglio, and in which is housed the museum dedicated to the painter "naive" A. Ligabue. Among other monuments and places of interest include: the Civic Tower, brought to completion between 1599 and 1602; the Collegiata of San Maria Della Neve, also designed by architect Argenta; and the Church of the Immaculate Conception, decorated in 1650 with a beautiful carved wooden ceiling.


Main center of Lower Reggiana, Guastalla is a remarkable town that retains the charm and appeal of an ancient capital. The earliest archaeological evidence about a town in this area seem to date back to the Etruscan period, although it is in the early Middle Ages that the name of the city was mentioned for the first time. In 1549 it was bought by Ferrante Gonzaga, who refounded as an ideal city, characterized by a central cross roads ended spectacularly from the facade of a church. The ancient Via Gonzaga leads to Piazza Mazzini, an ancient Piazza Maggiore and the heart of the city, dominated by the monument to Ferrante Gonzaga by Leone Leoni. On the square facing the Duomo, or Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, of the sixteenth century by Francesco Capriani, with front end 800; the Palazzo Ducale, largely rebuilt, inside which houses the Museum of the City of Guastalla; and the Town Hall, with the porch with the models of the ancient unit of measurement. Also worth visiting are the churches della Croce, the Annunciation and of the Servants, and the Municipal Theatre in the neoclassical style, dating back to 1671.


The longest among the lordships of Gonzaga , Novellara is a charming town located in the Po valley called "Lower Reggiana" a few kilometers from the river Po. From the very frequent fog brought from the swamp, it is likely to have originated the name of the country  called Nubilaria, Nuvelaria before even taking the current name of Novellara. Of particular interest it is its historical center, characterized by the imposing Rocca, the most important monument of Novellara of the Gonzaga era. Built starting in 1385 by Guido Gonzaga, the fortress houses the nineteenth-century Teatro Comunale and Gonzaga museum with an amazing collection of vases from the pharmacy of the sixteenth century and paintings by Lelio Orsi, born in the land. Among the other significant examples of its past must be reported: the great Collegiate of St. Stephen, built in 1567 on Orsi project and enlarged in the eighteenth century; Il Santuario della Beata Vergine della Fossetta (the  Shrine of Our Lady of Dimple), built in 1654 by the architect Gian Battista Negri; and the Church of the Blessed Virgin del Popolo, dating from the eighteenth century.


Located in the Po Valley, about 15 km from Reggio Emilia, San Martino in Rio is a place rich in history and culture, whose visit offers several depth cues: not only monuments, but also important museums, characters and traditions. Charlemagne gave this land to the Church of Reggio Emilia, which in turn, sold it to Bonifazio of Canossa and in 1115 the Countess Matilde di Canossa, daughter of Bonifacio, enfeoffed the territory to the noble family of Reggio Emilia Roberti from Tripoli, who held control until 1430, when she was driven out by Nicolò d'Este. Its symbolic monument is the Rocca, which after being destroyed by Frederick Barbarossa in 1167, was rebuilt with mighty towers, and passed to the Roberti of Reggio Emilia. Inside stands the exquisite chapel of 1395 dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. Today the castle houses the Municipal Library and the Museum of Agriculture with an ethnographic collection of the most interesting in the region. Other highlights include: the Automobile Museum and adjoining stables, with about forty cars, a dozen motorcycle and a few bikes; and the Collegiate Church of Saints Martin and Venerio located in the heart of the historic center.

For more information visit the official website of the Small Capitals of the Renaissance.

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