The Montecchio Emilia fortress stands, on the right bank of the
river "Enza" about halfway between Parma and Reggio Emilia.
It overlooks the ancient city centre and it is undoubtedly one
of the most outstnding fortfied castles belonging to the Age of
"Matilde di Canossa", in this area.
The exact period when the fortress was founded is still uncertain
but, for sure, it already existed in 1114 as mentioned in a 1259
Decree called "Castrum Vetus".
The oldest part of it probably already existed in the 10th Century
A.C. The fortress was the object of fierce quarrels between the
Bishops and the Parma Government in the 13th Century. After the
period, the "Cicedomini, The "Visconti" and the "Este"
families owned it in turns.
1426, Montecchio Emilia fell under the dominition of the "Estense"
family and, thanks to its strategic situation it became a "Marquisate"
in 1562. Montecchio Emilia was under the Estense until the unity
Recent archeological excavations in teh dungeon, have brought to
light the original foundation of the castle and a wide Carolingian
burial ground. So far 28 tombs have been explored; they are arranged
in a ritual "east-west" direction. This burial ground
was used for at least two/three centuries.
The visit to the dungeon ends with a "calcara", the lime-kiln,
which was in use in the 10th and 11th Century, and the traces of
the ancient foundations of the "S.Ambrogio" chapel. Going
upstairs from the dungeon, there is the bridge tower, where the
Army Corps were and the original main entrance to the fortress where
the draw bridge was.
Going up the 16th Century spiral staircase leading to the first
floor, called "the noble floor" we can see the library
with its 17th Century chapel.
Inside the donjon there is a fascinating 14th Century fresco representing
a Virgin with Child and Saints.
The painting denotes that was a prestigious dwelling place and
shows an exquisite chromatic and stylistic workmanship.
It was presumably done by a skilled master, in gothic style and
the Giotto influence is clear.