Located in the Bolognese countryside, near to the mountain town of Vergato, Castello Rocchetta Mattei is a towering example of ninteenth-century architectural eclecticism that has recently become accessible to the public.
Begun in 1850, this edifice was the brainchild of the Bolognese aristocrat and lay medical practitioner, Count Cesare Mattei.
Mattei was born on 11 January, 1809 and went on to become one of the founders of the Cassa di Risparmio bank in Bologna. In 1847, he went on to recieve the title of “count” from Pope Pius IX, following a donation of land in Comacchio to the Papal States. In 1848, he was appointed as a Member of the Board of the Bologna Civic Guard and subsequently was elected as a Member of Parliament.
On the occasion of his retirement, in 1849, Mattei took the time to devote himself to the study of electrohomoeopathy (a therapy related to homeopathy, which relies on the extraction of Bio-energy from plants). During the nineteenth century, it was claimed that this quasi-medical practice, invented by Mattei, was an efficacious, non-surgical alternative treatment for cancer. The count died on 3 April, 1896 and is remembered as an eccentric, yet charitable individual.
Mattei’s “small fortress” presents itself as a cocktail of various architectural styles. The complex in its entirety is made up of a maze of rooms, corridors, courtyards, annexes, towers and staircases. Visitors can now benefit from weekend guided tours of the property (for a small charge) and free admission on the first Sunday of each month.
Images: Images 1, 2, 5 and 6 – Wikimedia Commons.
Image 3 – @CRISTINA GIUNTINI.
Image 4 – @INTOSCANA.IT.
Posted by Samantha Hughes-Johnson