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Ufficio Turistico Comunità Montana Modena Ovest
Via Rocca 1,
I-41045 Montefiorino


Detailed description:

A castle, an ancient church, an abbey, lonely towers and old villages bear witness to the memorable historical events that took place in this part of Modena's Apennine. Human settlements were established in the valleys washed by the Dragone and Rossenna streams and the River Secchia since remote prehistory. At the confluence of the Pescarolo stream with the River Secchia, the imposing and suggestive Pescale’s Rock is still found, in the Municipality of Prignano, among steep rocky sandstone walls: here there was a Neolithic Age village, which is considered one of the earliest settlements in Modena’s area. Some Bronze Age finds have been discovered in Frassinoro, Lake of Montefiorino (locality of Calvario), in Montestefano, Costrignano and Santa Giulia di Monchio. The Etruscans reached the uppermost area of our Mountain Community from Tuscany, as proven by some place-names. Tolara di Frassinoro (border land), Palagano (gold nuggets), Modino (mut-peak). Perhaps they were interested in extracting minerals (copper and iron) from the volcanic rocks of Boccassuolo. The Ligurians settled in Reggio-Modena’s Apennine around 2000 B.C.: evidence of their presence is the house arrangement, stuck one to the other. They organised the land into “vici” or “pagi” (villages being the seat of a municipality). In the 4th cent. B.C. the Celts settled in our valleys, as demonstrated by a few toponyms (Lama= marshland, Ronco= deforested land), by the local dialect (guarzeta= girl) and the name of some farming tools: “benna” (wheelbarrow), “corga” (round wicker basket). The Romans slowly conquered the area and created estates, that is lands granted to the veteran legionaries as a reward. Different Roman toponyms can be found: Prignano (Primus), Costrignano, Rubbiano etc., and dialect words (angotta= negutta quidem= nothing) bibulca (two oxen). The Byzantine army of Ravenna also ruled these lands until 728. Some traces of their domination are left, especially in the churches dedicated to Ravenna-born saints: S. Vitale in Monchio, S. Apollinare in Boccassuolo. A few Longobard settlements in this part of Modena's mountaind are witnessed by some toponyms. In the 8th and 9th cent. homes were built for the pilgrims heading towards Tuscany in San Pellegrino, San Geminiano and perhaps in Frassinoro, along a road known as Via Bibulca (called like that because it was wide enough to give way to two yoked oxen); until the 14th cent., this route linked the plain to the Apennine villages towards Tuscany. The Dolo and Dragone valleys, under Matilda of Canossa’s rule, have a well-established social and political organization revolving on two important churches: Pieve di Rubbiano (on the Via Bibulca, this 6th cent. church is one of the best preserved religious buildings of the Apennine although it was partly restored) and Pieve dei Monti in Santa Giulia di Monchio (destroyed during the Second World War on 8th January 1945 and almost completely rebuilt in 1950-1954). However, it was after the foundation of the Abbey of Frassinoro in 1071 by margrave Beatrice of Lorraine and her daughter Matilda that the Canossa family’s rule was imposed on the land. The Abbey of Frassinoro was the largest cultural and religious centre of Modena’s mountains. Among Beatrice and Matilda’s possessions let’s mention Vitriola, a fertile land, still rich in civil buildings dating back to the Middle Ages such as fortified houses and the church dedicated to S. Andrea which, although rebuilt in the 19th century, still maintains the Romanesque style in its external structure. The wealth of the Abbey soon became the cause of disputes with the Municipality of Modena, which was against the temporal power of the monastery and the feudal system. During the wars between the Communes and the Empire, the abbot of Frassinoro appointed Bernardo di Montecuccolo as captain of Frignano, to act as a defender and guardian of his castles and fortified buildings. In fact, the Fortress’ Tower was built in Montefiorino in 1170 overlooking the Dolo and Dragone valleys. The abbots carried on the construction of fortified buildings all over the mountains they ruled, in particular in Montefiorino. The castle was built between 1235 and 1238, and surrounded by walls. The fighting for ruling the Frignano and the Abbey lands ended in 1317 with the victory of the Montecuccolo family. In 1369 these mountains were visited by Emperor Charles IV of Bohemia. He was hosted in Montefiorino, which was considered the most suitable place to welcome an emperor. On that occasion the Montecuccolo family was granted the feudal investiture diploma for the lands and castles obtained from the Holy Roman Empire and the previous emperors as well as the right to incorporate the imperial eagle to their coat of arms. The Montecuccolo lords ruled until 1426 when, following a popular uprising caused by their many iniquities, the Este family took over. The village’s autonomy was guaranteed from any other feudal authority and Montefiorino became the seat of a podestà. Until 1796 it was under the jurisdiction exerted by the Este lordship. In the summer of 1944, from 18th June to 2nd August, the first Partisan Republic in Northern Italy was set up in Montefiorino. The Municipality of Montefiorino was granted a golden medal for military valour acknowledging its "generous contribution of courage, blood and suffering to the cause of freedom".

Animals allowed: Yes