HALD DAY TOUR (3 hours)
Famous all over the world for its racetrack, Imola is also a perfect place for those who wish to take a step back in history. Its old town center is a treasure chest full of noble palaces, striking corners and the wonderful Sforza Castle.
The visit of Imola starts from one of the four ancient gates of the city Porta Montanara, which is crowned with Ghibelline battlements and was built between 1460 and 1472 as an entrance to the walls that overlooked the hills. Walking a little further you will reach Palazzo Tozzoni. It was home to the Tozzoni family who lived here and were protagonists of the historical and political events of Imola for many years. Their home is an excellent example of House Museum where the original furniture and decorations are still preserved.
Entering in its rooms and in the different historical periods in which they were created, you pass through the Barocchetto apartment, that hosted Kings and Popes, and the Empire apartment with its neoclassical elegance; you can visit the library and the archive and from the courtyard you have access to the underground cellars. You discover the stories, the secrets and the adventurous lives of the members of this noble family. You will also have a “curious” meeting with one of its mistresses, Orsola Bandini, who will tell you about her tragic and cursed love that defies time.
Returning to a more modern Imola and taking a stroll in the old town centre, you will reach the two main squares: Piazza Matteotti and Piazza Gramsci. The former was created as the commercial heart of the city by Girolamo Riario who, on the east side of the square, also built the Palazzo della Signoria (now Palazzo Sersanti). This palace is still one of the most beautiful Renaissance buildings in the region today. The west side is entirely occupied by the elegant façade of the Palazzo Comunale, the Town Hall. The nearby Piazza Gramsci, hides in its basement hides important traces of Roman construction as evidence of when Imola was the Forum Cornelii. Walking down Via Emilia, you will pass the ancient Pharmacy of the Hospital, which since 1448 has been part of the hospital assets and that in 1629 was entrusted to the spice merchants Maccolini family. After its renovation in 1794, the furnishings and decorations remained intact, giving the visitor the fascinating image of an 18th century pharmacy with its frescoed vault and its 457 vintage majolica vases from Imola’s factory, bearing in the lables the names of the medicine.
Proceeding further ahead, you will see the Cathedral of San Cassiano. It was built in Romanesque style between 1187 and 1271. The building has undergone several alterations due to serious static problems and in 1763 it was completely rebuilt on the previous project by the architect Cosimo Morelli. The façade of the church dates back to 1850 and inside it is still possible to see the funerary tombstone of Girolamo Riario who was buried here by the bride Caterina Sforza.
Towards the end of the tour you reach: the majestic Sforza Castle.
Founded in 1261, it is a splendid example of medieval fortified architecture. It was later transformed, into the style in which we see it today, under the lordship of Girolamo Riario and the famous Caterina Sforza. A few years later the castle was forced to withstand the siege of the Borgias at the hands of the Duke “Valentino” who brought it back under papal dominion. In 1502, Valentino asked Leonardo Da Vinci to inspect the fortresses of Romagna, including the Imola one, and to prepare the drawings and reinforcement of the latter, with the aim of repairing it from the damage suffered by the Borgian artillery . Important evidence of this is the Imola map that Leonardo drew, where the Castle is clearly indicated.
With Imola definitively annexed to the Papal States, the military function of the Fortress lost its value and its main use was as a prison. Even with the advent of the Kingdom of Italy and during the Second World War it retained this function which ended only in 1958. After this year, the structure was restored and today the Castle hosts the Museum of weapons and ceramics and it is also the headquarters of the International Piano Academy and an important location for events.