"There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds" G. K. Chesterton
The castle Rocchetta Mattei (literally "small fortress Mattei") is situated in the mountan chain of the Apennines between Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. It is 45 km away from Bologna, on the SS.64 (road) that links Bologna to Porretta Terme, just after the town of Riola, in the municipality of Grizzana Morandi.
It was built by the Count Cesare Mattei (1809-1896) on the remains of an ancient medieval castle that belonged to Matilde di Canossa (a.k.a. Matilda of Tuscany).
In the beginning the Count was an army man, than a politician, than a science man, a scholar, a philanthropist and an entrepreneur. He personally directed the constuction of the castle "having on his command artisans of every trade".
The fusion of different architectural styles, such as the Medieval Gothic with the Moorish style, make the Rocchetta a mesmeric and fantastic place, full of small rooms very expertly decorated and linked together by a labyrinthine plan mixed together with lodges, spiral staircases and towers. Two of the most appealing spaces are “Il Cortile dei Leoni” (The Lions’ Courtyard), which is a reproduction of the courtyard of the Alhambra of Granada (Spain), and the chapel, which was built like the Cathedral of Cordoba (Spain). The Count built the Rocchetta for one specific reason, he wanted it to be the cradle of his invention: Electro-Homoeopathy, a type of medicine that by using natural herbs and a secret process of preparation was meant to cure the man from all the diseases.
This type of medicine spread quickly and it made the Count and the castle very well known worldwide. Dostoevskij, in his "The Brothers Karamazov" ,states its importance when he tells the devil that he was finally healed from a very painful case of rheumatism thanks to a book and some drops from the Count Mattei.
The Foundation Carisbo bought it in 2005 and the beginning of the massive restoration of what can be visited today.
The castle is open Saturday and Sunday with guided tours from 10am to 3pm in Winter and from 9,30am to 1pm / 3pm to 5,30pm in Summer. Reservation is always requested. Info and bookings:www.rocchettamattei-riola.it