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Matilda path, an itinerary in italian history

Matilda path, an itinerary in italian history

Relives the story of Matilda of Canossa through the ancient places of his great feud that spanned much of central and northern peninsula.

Around the year one thousand, in the Apennino Reggiano scene occurred the great events of the history of Europe and the protagonist of these events was  Matilda of Canossa, who here had placed the political and military center of his immense fiefdom. Of that great power remain a large number of castles and churches reminiscent of a period of strong political and religious passions.

The Matilda is one of the strategic backbone of hiking crossing of the province of Reggio Emilia in the direction of the Apennines and Tuscany .It consists of a network of routes along the lines of the ancient roads of the Middle Ages thanks to which you can relive the story of Matilda of Canossa through the ancient places of his great feud that spanned much of central and northern peninsula.

The trail is entirely marked and signposted. The marking consists of red-white-red marks on paint while as there are road signs along the way metal arrows indicating the close range goal, and that of the intermediate stage. In addition, in the main points of the route there are areas of stops with an information display board .

The trail leads from the cliff of Canossa to the small village of San Pellegrino in Alpe, a natural balcony on the Garfagnana, through castles, tower houses, ancient churches and villages set in an enchanting natural landscape. It consists of five stages and the junction from Reggio Emilia, thanks to which you can discover the great beauty of the artistic and historical heritage left by the most important woman of the Middle Ages.

Citizen fitting: from Reggio Emilia Canossa

The "citizen fitting" begins the southern outskirts of Reggio Emilia, just beyond the bridge of San Pellegrino, reached along the historic Viale Umberto I. It starts by following the cycle path of the Crostolo river, which runs along the left bank for about 6 km. Along the cycle path there are the Fucini Park and the Caprette Park, while on the right bank of the stream develops the a nature trail. The park includes the Crostolo places of monumental value as the Palazzo Ducale of Rivalta, the Villa of Rivaltella and Casino of Bath (Bath Corbelli).

Continue until Vezzano sul Crostolo, whose territory is dotted by a major historical, cultural, landscape and environment. Of particular interest is the Church of San Martino, in whose southern facade is placed a carved lintel bearing the emblem of Canossa. In the old town are still visible some tower-houses dating back to the fifteenth century. From the center of Vezzano along the base of the sandstone hill you then reach the village of Castle of Canossa.


The Matilda Path starts from the railway station of Ciano d'Enza, the capital of the Municipality of Canossa. Following the signs you reach Vico, the charming town that still retains part of the original urban structure while in the continuous alteration of environmental features. In particular it presents an interesting country home with dovecote tower of the seventeenth century Giovannini family. Past the village of Vico, continue until the village and to Rossena Castle located on a reddish volcanic rock that gives it its name. The castle, maybe the most beautiful and best preserved of the entire Matilda area, dominates a stunning panorama that encompasses a large stretch of the plain and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. The route continues towards the village of Riverzana, small nucleus located on a hill below the slopes of Canossa in view of the valley of the rivers Ferrari and Vico.

After the small group of Riverzana, we reach the village and the ruins of the Castle of Canossa, who is known worldwide for the incident which occurred in the severe winter of 1077, when the Emperor Henry IV, as a pilgrim, waited for three days and three nights, before being received and forgiven by Pope Gregory VII, with the intercession of Matilda of Canossa. The castle, surrounded by picturesque ravines that give the landscape an almost lunar appearance, currently houses the museum "Naborre Campanini ". Then continue towards the village of Cavandola, a small group of houses placed on the eastern slopes of Mount Tesa. From Cavandola line the slopes of Mount Tesa up to Ceredolo of Coppi, village whose unique feature is the presence of bosses good-luck with sketchy human faces. The next goal is Bergogno, picturesque village among the most interesting of the Canossa, which preserves the main features of the local late medieval architecture.

Leaving Bergogno, the route goes to the village of Crocicchio. We recommend a detour to the nearby Parish, Pieve di S. Bartolomeo di Pavullo, ancient church that has a beautiful Romanesque facade and of which we have written known since 980. From Crocicchio you can continue to the village of Monchio dei Ferri, or Monchio Sarzano, important example of rural fortification built by the Court of Rossi. The route continues until Sarzano, Matilde di Canossa feud placed on top of a hill since ancient times arose to defend the road from Reggio di Lombardia rose toward the passes for Tuscany. From Sarzano the stage concludes going down a scenic trail that leads to Casina.

STAGE 2 : Casina-Carpineti

The second leg joins two "capitals" of the Terre di Canossa: municipal capitals Casina and Carpineti. It starts from Casina Hall towards Marola and you arrive at the church Migliara. The trail then goes into the woods coming to the villages of Cà Brioni : Castello, a rural complex with an articulate system probably relates to the XVI-XVII century; and Ca 'Nova, a country of great value of Canovi family. From Ca 'Nova climb to the houses higher Marola then descend and cross via Dante Alighieri reaching Seminario-Abbazia di Marola , built between 1076 and 1092 thanks to the generosity of Matilde di Canossa, as a demonstration of her gratitude to hermit Giovanni da Marola, awarded for having encouraged her to continue the fight against the Emperor Henry IV. Marola is very well known for its Romanesque abbey also for its chestnut trees. The seminar will proceed to Cigarello where it intersects the other branch of the Matilda Path that runs from Valcava and passes for the town of Croce di Petrella, whose main core emergency, abandoned, is made up of a fine sixteenth-century building.

From Cigarello, which highlights a complex articulated two tower-houses characteristics, we proceed to S. Donnino bordering the Tresinaro. You enter the village passing by the cemetery and the medieval church, which according to tradition was built by Matilde di Canossa. The trail continues through the village of Riana, a picturesque rural village with tower houses, and from here a short detour allows to reach the village of Regigno, a prestigious core located on a hill to the left of Riana river. The path, however, continues to the Castle of Carpineti, or Carpineti Castle, situated on the summit of Mount Antognano from which dominates the valleys of Tresinaro and the Secchia, a few kilometers from the center of Carpineti. During the reign of Matilda, the Carpineti castle was further fortified and became in time the favorite residence of the countess, who spent long periods administering its territories from within its very safe and inaccessible walls. At about four kilometers from the castle to report the ancient church of San Vitale.

STAGE 3 : Carpineti-Toano

Starting from Savognatica, you cross the Fosso delle Coste, the village of Cà Bazzoni and reach the rural village of Cogliolla, which is located in a particularly favorable position for the visual inspection of the Secchia. Crossed Il ponte Dell’Oca and the provincial, the path goes along the old "local road" that cuts open cultivated fields up to Cavola. Located near the Secchia valley, the village of Cavola is a very lively economic center through various craft companies that keep alive traditions such as carpentry and stone work. There are two buildings of great architectural and artistic interest: the parish church of San Michele, which features in the portal and side walls of remarkable stone decorations; and the Oratorio della Madonna delle Nevi, inside the seventeenth-century altar in inlaid wood by Francesco Ceccati. Upstream of the Church of San Michele the trail branches off to the left along a dirt road that reaches the village of Stiano, a rural village on the slopes of Monte Croce where the ancient house of Ceccati is of particular interest with the characteristic tower.

After Stiano the trail continues climbing through the fields to the charming village of Manno, still showing the cobbled path, the court and the nineteenth century villa of Ghirardini family, and the church of S. Prospero e Paolo. The route continues climbing up to Toano Castle and the Romanesque church of Santa Maria in Castello, ranks among the most significant monuments of Romanesque architecture in the area of ​​Reggio Emilia and one of the oldest religious buildings in the Reggio diocese. The descent towards the river Dolo is through the road of the village that becomes Polcione cart track and intercept the Oratory of Prevedelli and the village of Frale.


From Frale, going through cultivated fields and residues of old vineyards, you will reach the river Dolo at Villa Bonicelli, old building, partially restored, where the typological original are still visible in the remaining tables. The path continues to the ancient thermal springs of Quara, formerly called "Balneum Aquarium" and which is documented in the mid-fifteenth century. The route continues towards Cadignano, in the municipality of Villa Minozzo, a village with a manor house and chapel from which it comes down to the seventeenth century humpback bridge.

From Cadignano you can follow two parallel paths: the one in the bank Reggio (on the left of Dolo stream) and one near Modena (on the right bank of the river).

The Reggio variant from Cadignano village arrives in Campolungo and from there on a paved driveway in part the town of Calvello. From Le Bore proceed towards Cà de 'Rossi intercepting the municipal road of Morsiano, important village relaxing on the extreme eastern foothills of Monte Penna, and crossed the country continue to Romanoro. You reach the ford on the river Cervarolo and from here you go up into the woods until you reach Gazzano.

The Modenese variation from Cadignano Bridge along the river Dolo interesting intercepting tubs of water and reaches the bed of the historic landslide Valoria-Rio Rumaggio. It dates back coasting along to the village C. Percigolo, and then continue up to Romanoro, where you can admire the beautiful Church of St. Scolastica. From Romanoro we reach the village of Montale and the nearby village of Panigale, go along the roadway with a short climb reaches the road Tracciolino. On the path to intercept spectacular sandstone walls sculpted by water; decks and finally the dam are works of great architectural interest. Along the track comes off the link road to the matildic town of Frassinoro, through Rovolo, a village of great architectural interest. Returning along the road Tracciolino, you reach the Church and the country of Gazzano.

STAGE 5 : Gazzano – San Pellegrino

It is the final stage, very mountainous, spectacular and challenging. Following the paved road from Gazzano, you get to Le Pere Storte, township made up of a manor complex and farm buildings. After the last houses continue along a dirt road going up to Case Farioli and Fontanaluccia, village of ancient origin famous for its chestnut trees. Forded the Rio Rumale you reach La Teggia, from which a gradual climb, crossing forage and beech forest, to Monte Roncadello and the village below.

By Roncadello you get to the place called the Colle del morto. From here the route intercepts over again the paved road that leads to S. Geminiano. Reached il Passo delle Radici, cross the road and take the asphalted road that leads to the first houses of the downstream village of San Pellegrino in Alpe with a unique view on the Tuscan side.

Of this last stage there is also a "summer variant" designation that is because we do not recommend the journey in the bad season.

Gazzano from the church, cross the country and reach Fontana della Pila, with tables and picnic area. It continues, overcoming a rocky ridge from where the view opens of Dolo on the narrow, dominated by the ruins of Torre Dell’Amorotto, part of the ancient Castle of Scalelle. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the fortress was occupied by Domenico d'Amorotto which took its name. The trail continues to Civago, the last town before some of the most interesting areas of forests and grasslands of high altitude ridge of Reggiano: Abetina Reale and Monte Prado. Civago offers a series of thematic trails that allow observation pastures and chestnut woods with even ancient artifacts: fountains, protects, metati, majesty, dry stone walls. From Piazza Civago then you reach houses Civago.

The path wanders the ruins of the Dolo homes and come to the Rifugio San Leonardo, rebuilt on the site of hospitale for pilgrims, whose existence is already documented from the XII century. Just beyond, they are overcome with ford Dolo and Riaccio delle Forbici, climb on the old road delle Forbici and you reach Passo delle Forbici.

For more info and to download the readbook visit the official website of Matilda path.

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