Starting from the castle closest to the city of Reggio Emilia, the first stop on our itinerary is the Castle of Bianello, in the municipality of Quattro Castella.
Built on a natural balcony in the first hills of the Reggio Emilia Apennines, from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view, this castle is the only survivor of the four located on the hills that give the municipal territory its name (Quattro Castella means “four castles”). The area is located within a 160-hectare protected natural oasis.
Here Matilde lived almost habitually and here she hosted Henry IV penitent, before the humiliation that took place in Canossa in 1077. Here popes and princes stayed and always here in 1111 Matilde received Henry V and was proclaimed by him imperial vicar (vice-queen) of Italy.
After Matilde’s death, the castle underwent numerous transformations, which made it a stately home with frescoes, ballrooms and reception rooms. However, it also preserves interesting structures of the primitive fortress and, in one room, a 14th-century painting representing Matilde holding the pomegranate flower, the symbol of the church, and the motto tuetur et unit, that means “to protect and unite”.
The Castle is accessible only by guided tour of about 50 minutes.