Spilamberto - The Rangone fortress

The Rangone family fortress, the Rocca Rangoni, lies on top of an older complex which, arranged around a large tower, represented the main defensive nucleus of the castle built in the XIII century by the Municipality of Modena to protect the town against the Bolognese. It probably assumed its fortified quadrilateral plan featuring towers, battlements and trapdoors between 1353 and 1454, when it was donated to the Rangone family on their becoming feudatories.

The main entrance originally faced the river, and the Rocca still preserves traces of the ancient drawbridge and the perimeter walls. The building’s square-shaped plan is characterised by its spacious austere courtyard, in earlier times featuring porticoes enriched by columns with beautiful capitals in sandstone and terracotta.  In terms of military history the imposing towers are highly significant – one facing the town and the other the river Panaro – where traces of the drawbridge remain.

The external appearance is characterized by the typical shape of the castles to be found around Reggio Emilia and Modena, with corner towers featuring machicolation, in later centuries heavily adapted to transform it into a residential palace. The facade towards the town is a classic example: In fact, the quite apparent late seventeenth century transformations were carried out to give the castle the appearance of an urban palace, for example through the false window decorations and a small balcony in the centre of the second tower in tune with the fashions of the time.

The large park which stretches along the front was obtained by a recent transformation of the area outside the walls, when, in the second half of the twentieth century, the Rocca itself was partially re-adapted as a residence of the Rangone marquises. A long, tree-lined avenue connects the park to the family’s vast farm holding which used to lie along the banks of the river Panaro. Here, in the early twentieth century, was constructed the charming, imposing, eclectic villa with its high tower, commissioned by the Rangone family from the architect, Cerani. Unquestionably, the numerous works to transform and decorate this large country park date back to that same period, with quite evident traces remaining in the furnishings and water systems. In addition, in more recent times the area has seen further interventions of reforestation and redesign.

The 10th of May 1514 represents a rare certain dating – contained as it is in an inscription scratched onto the wall of a small spiral staircase adjacent to the Northeast tower – which testifies the presence in the Rocca of Count Guido Rangone, a famous military leader and undeniably one of the most illustrious exponents of this ancient family. In the years from 1650 to 1660 it became the residence of the Rangone, who transformed it from a fortress into a luxurious residence. This was the building’s finest hour, when it became known as a “magnificent palace” owing to the richness of its woven furnishings in gold and silk. Fragments of seventeenth century painted decorations are still visible on the Rocca’s outside walls.

ComuneSpilamberto - 41057 (MO)

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