A short drive from Parma stands the imposing Rocca Sanvitale castle that can be visited on a custom Italy vacation.
Built in the 14th century with some parts dating back as far as the 12th century the castle still dominates the ancient town of Fontanellato. The last descendant of the Sanvitale family sold the castle to the local Council in 1948, which transformed this magnificent abode into a museum that can be visited on guided tours.
A wide moat surrounds Rocca Sanvitale, just like centuries ago. Inside the fortress, a vast collection of furniture, armours, china, and paintings has been assembled over the centuries. In one of the towers, curious visitors always linger in the so-called “optical room”, the only functioning one of its kind in Italy. The clever system of lenses and prisms was built in the 19th century and allows to see what is happening outside, across the moat, without leaving the castle.
One of the main highlights of the Rocca Sanvitale’s treasures is the small room with spectacular frescoes painted by young Parmigianino for Paola Gonzaga and Galeazzo Sanvitale. They tell the myth of Diana and Acteon and are considered to be one of the best works of Italian Renaissance.
The castle hosts numerous exhibitions, concerts and cultural events throughout the year. From February to May, every Saturday there are historical evenings “Il gusto della cultura” with Renaissance music and delicious food. On the third Sunday of each month, one of the biggest antiques’ markets in Italy takes place in the area around the castle. A custom Italy vacation gives visitors the chance to discover the Fontanellato’s famous excellent markets: there is one on almost every weekend in summer. Producers and farmers from the area sell mouth-watering local specialties such as culatello salami, pasta tortelli with wild herbs or pumpkin, various cheeses and meats.
Photos from Flickr by: Udo Schröter, Andrea Lodi.