Castel del Rio is a municipality in the Bolognese Apennines located along the Santerno river between Imola and Firenzuola, at the foot of the mountains and on the border with Tuscany
Castel del Rio is a municipality in the Bolognese Apennines located along the Santerno river between Imola and Firenzuola, at the foot of the mountains and on the border with Tuscany. Its name comes from the word “Rio” or stream, which is close to the town and flows into the Santerno River.
The oldest settlements in this municipality are of Celtic origin, dating back to between the fifth and sixth centuries BC. The municipality was originally known under the name of Massa di Sant’Ambrogio. It is famous for having been part of the lands owned by Matilde di Canossa. After a dispute with the Church, it was assigned by Emperor Otto IV to the Alidosi family, which from that moment was inextricably linked to the history of the country. All the great works of the town were commissioned by them: Palazzo Alidosi and Ponte Alidosi (Alidosi Bridge). There was also the Castellaccio residence of which today, however, only a few remains are left.
The site where Castel del Rio stands was originally the commercial square of Castrum Rivi that the Alidosi family had set aside as a meeting place and for trading products; it was only in the 13th century that the first group of private houses was built around the market. In more recent times, Castel del Rio was in the front line during two world wars and lost many of its citizens. The town council placed a commemorative plaque in their memory at the Santuario della Beata Vergine del Sudore, which is still visible today.
The historic centre has the form of a village and dates back to medieval times.
Several historic buildings and churches can be visited. Among the many that can be mentioned is the archpriest church, which dates as far back as the fifteenth century. There is also the sixteenth century Palazzo Alidosi in the town centre, built upon the wishes of Cardinal Francesco Alidosi, which today is the best example of the Florentine Renaissance architecture in Romagna.
At the entrance to the town you can find the imposing Ponte Alidosi (Alidosi Bridge) commissioned to Andrea Guerrieri in 1499, which has been considered a national monument since 1897.
A few steps away, we can also find the ruins of the Cantagallo-antico Castrum Rivi fortress and the ruins of the Castellaccio fortress, which was the first residence of the Alidosi family.
Among the main places of interest, there are various museums, in particular Palazzo Alidosi that hoses the War Museum – Gothic Line, considered to hold one of the most extensive museum collections in the region regarding the war. There is also the Chestnut Museum, which is particularly important and characteristic for the area.
You can also visit the Animal Tower, a wildlife museum and environmental educational centre dedicated to the fauna of the upper Santerno valley.
Moving away from the historic centre of the town, thanks to the numerous trekking and excursions proposed by the CAI and the town council, we can find one of the most evocative buildings of worship in the area: the 13th century Church of Valmaggiore at 698 m above sea level on the ridge between the Santerno and Senio valleys. The original roof collapsed, but a glass cover was installed to protect the building and allow it to be opened to visitors.
We can also find the Church of Santa Maria in Montefune in the village of the same name at 709 metres above sea level, whose initial construction dates back to the fourteenth century, again by the Alidosi family. Various sections of the Gothic Line pass through the municipal area.