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Rocchetta Mattei is one of the most extravagant castles to be found in Italy: a true jewel nestled in the Apennine mountains and a good reason to visit Emilia Romagna!

This magical place is well worth a visit and in this article we will give you some useful information to plan your trip to Rocchetta Mattei!

Rocchetta Mattei: a good reason to visit Emilia Romagna

Italy is famous for its villages and beautiful places hidden among its mountains and hills. Rocchetta Mattei is definitely on this list and is a unique place where, although you are in Italy, you feel like you are in Spain or Morocco.

If you are planning a day trip out of town, this is the place for you: visiting Rocchetta Mattei is a very special and interesting experience, and after your visit you could take the opportunity to go for a nice walk in the enchanting Bolognese Apennine mountains or enjoy a good meal in one of the many agritourisms in the area. Here are some tips for planning a visit to this fairytale castle in Italy!

A bit of history about the Rocchetta Mattei, a unique castle in Italy

Rocchetta Mattei was founded in 1800 on the ruins of an ancient medieval villa, at the behest of Count Cesare Mattei. The Count was a very special person who, after the various vicissitudes he had experienced in Bologna, decided to retire to this castle in the Apennine mountains to devote himself, body and soul, to his true passion: medicine and, in particular, electromeopathy. In this field he had considerable success, both in Italy and abroad (so much so that he is mentioned by Dostoyevsky in his novel The Brothers Karamazov), and his studies were continued by his heirs.

When Cesare Mattei died, the villa was sold to the wife of a local merchant, but it remained uninhabited since the 1980s. After 20 years of neglect, the Fondazione Carisbo bought the castle in 2005 with the intention of restoring it and making it accessible to the public. The official inauguration took place in 2015.

The castle was often modified by Count Cesare Mattei, who over time added towers, staircases and hidden passages to create the castle as we see it today: a fascinating labyrinth that winds through Renaissance rooms, open spaces reminiscent of Spanish patios and Moorish towers.

Cortile della Rocchetta Mattei in stile moresco

Inner courtyard

Rocchetta Mattei: how to get there and where it is located in the Apennine mountains in Emilia Romagna

The Rocchetta Mattei is located in the heart of the Bolognese Apennines, near the villages of Riola and Ponte. The landscape in which the castle is located is splendid, immersed in the green woods that cover the Apennine mountains.

The most convenient way to reach this place is definitely by car, as it is about an hour’s drive from Bologna and 1 1/2 hours from Florence. From both Bologna and Florence, take the SS64, also known as “La Porrettana”, and when you get to Riola, take the SP62, which leads to Rocchetta Mattei.

The castle does not have its own parking lot; there are a few spots along the road, so it is advisable to arrive a little early to avoid wasting time looking for a parking space.

The alternative to driving is to take the regional train from Bologna to Riola station and then take bus 963, which stops right at Rocchetta Mattei. The train ride from Bologna takes about an hour, and trains to Riola leave every hour or so. The ticket costs about €5.

Vista del Cortile dei Leoni e delle torri della Rocchetta Mattei

The Courtyard of the Cyons

Vista dall'alto sul Cortile dei Leoni Rocchetta Mattei

View of the tower and the Courtyard of the Lions

How to visit Rocchetta Mattei and book the ticket

The ticket can be purchased online at the official website of Rocchetta Mattei, which you can find at this link.

The full cost of the ticket is €10, while there are discounts for those arriving by train (€7) and for people with disabilities and children between the ages of 6 and 12 (€5). Children under the age of 6 are free.

Reservations are required, so tickets cannot be purchased on site.

We recommend that you book your visit and purchase your tickets online a little in advance, as the castle can only be visited by guided tour and there are limited places available.
If you are unable to purchase tickets online, you can contact Rocchetta Mattei by email or phone. Follow this link for more information.

The rules for visiting Rocchetta Mattei

Photography is allowed inside the castle.

It is not possible to bring animals, strollers, food and drinks.

Rocchetta Mattei is also accessible for people with reduced mobility, as there are elevators.

How the tour works

As we just mentioned, Rocchetta Mattei is accessible only by guided tour.

The tour starts from the inner courtyard, via a Moorish-style entrance, which will already catapult you into the magical world of this castle. The central courtyard is a large open space on which you can see all the architectural styles that characterize the rocchetta.

The visit continues in the interior and upper rooms of Rocchetta Mattei including:

  • The Hall of the Ninety: This room was originally designed to be a mausoleum dedicated to Queen Victoria, but was later transformed into a ballroom by Mario Venturoli, the count’s adopted son. One of the curiosities concerning this hall is the origin of the name: in fact, the count would have liked to celebrate his 90th birthday in this hall, in the company of 89 other 90-year-olds;
  • The Red Room: the Moorish style predominates in this room, and its peculiarity is due to the construction of the ceiling with small pyramids of pressed paper;
  • The Hall of Oblivion: this is the room of the adopted son Mario Venturoli and there are still preserved original wooden elements (consider that in the years of abandonment the fortress was subject to various looting);
  • The Courtyard of Lions: inspiration was taken for the creation of this space from the magnificent Alhambra in Granada. In the center of the courtyard is a fountain with four lions while the sides consist of wonderful, once colorful porticoes, the walls of which have been covered with tiles from Seville;
  • The Hanging Garden: from this area it is possible to take a closer look at the various parts that make up the fortress, such as the towers, and on the hills surrounding the castle. The balustrades appear to be made of wood, but, in reality, they are made of concrete;
  • The Chapel: this is undoubtedly the most striking space in the castle because it was made with interwoven columns and arches decorated with black and white striped patterns in such a way as to create a true optical illusion. The inspiration for this room comes again from Spain, specifically from the Mosque of Cordoba, where the decorative motif is red and white stripes.
Ingresso alla Rocchetta Mattei

The entrance of the castle

Giardino Pensile della Rocchetta Mattei

The Hanging Garden

I giochi di contrasto bianco e nero della Cappella della Rocchetta Mattei

The Chapel

With this article we hope to have provided you with useful information for planning your visit to the magical Rocchetta Mattei! It is important to promote the heritage of our country, because it is a unique jewel in the world, and our visits help to preserve these important places. Stay updated through the newsletter and social channels and as always… trip to try!

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