History and etymology of Dozza

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History of Dozza

The territory around Dozza has been inhabited since prehistoric times, but only scattered settlement remains still exist from the Roman period and the Early Medieval Age, and only one larger cluster of houses has been found in nearby Toscanella (1).

The site of Dozza in ancient times was a fertile land full of springs, so it is conceivable that it was a strategically important place, maybe even defended by a fortified Roman camp. However this is only a partial hypothesis based on linguistic rather than on historical observed data.

In Roman times the territory of Bologna was divided into various "pagi" and "vici" [= villages], and it is possible, but not provable, that Dozza coincides with the old Roman "Vicus Calancus," mentioned by some medieval documents, but which it is not possible to identify with certainty (2).

Etymology of Dozza

The etymology of Dozza seems clear, and it refers to a place full of springs. “The word “Dozza” comes from the Medieval Latin ‘Ducia’ or ‘Duza’, in its turn derived from the classical Latin ‘ductio, ductionis,’ connected to the typical formula ‘aquam ducere.’ It refers to a "channel which leads water" (3).

According to other linguistic studies, the dialectal word "doss" (derived from the Latin "ductio") also indicates the "water springing up from the earth" (4). Among other things, documents show that near Dozza there was a place called " The Springs" [= Le Sorgenti]:

"The inhabitants of Dozza, February 10, 1426, granted Malvezzi, at his request, a channel was built through their territory, so he would be able to access the Sillaro river. He however must provide them with a church with wood or stone in some places called 'The Springs' and ' The Sandy Place' [= Italian “Il Sabbioso"] (5).

Medieval Dozza

Regarding the documentation that has been definitely ascertained, the name of Dozza appears in medieval documents in the 12th century. Dozza is mentioned, albeit indirectly, in a document dating back to 1126, where some priests were cited "of the church of Santa Maria of the castle of Dozza [= Dutiae], which was known in the documents also as Santa Maria in Sellustra" (6).

With the name of "Castrum dutie," Dozza is cited unequivocally in a medieval document of 1175, "Indictione V". The document, however, dates back to three years before, because S. Gaddoni noted that "Indictio V respondet anno 1172" [the fifth indiction corresponds to 1172]. In this document, the "presbiter [= priest] Rodulphus" granted to "presbyter” Guidoni" the movable and immovable property of the "Ecclesia S. Marie de castro dutie" [the church of Santa Maria of the castle of Dozza] (7).

In another document dated 1379, Dozza is mentioned as "Dutia." This document cites several men such as Bernardus de Dutia [= Dozza], who cashed 16,500 Bolognese lire by the commune of Bologna . Other interested parties were Bernardus de Rechaneto and Andreas de Civitela (8).

Dozza was ruled by the Bishop of Imola, as it appears from a bull of Pope Honorius II, 1126, in which he "Confirmat Corneliensi Episcopo possessiones omnes" [confirms to the Bishop of Imola all the possessions], including "Plebem St. Marie in Solustra "[ the parish church of Santa Maria in Solustra] [Pope Honorius II confirms to the Bishop of Imola and his successors all the property rights, having a title to possess and increase them] (Gaddoni, p. 292).

Pope Eugene III (1147) and then Lucius II (1182) confirmed the fief of Dozza (but it is not certain if the castle already existed at this time) to the church of Imola.

Then it belonged to Bologna in 1195, but it rebelled against it, ending up under the power of Imola. Bologna conquered Dozza again in 1222. Conquered again by Imola, Dozza was reconquered by Bologna in 1239 and in 1248, and on the latter occasion Dozza indeed suffered a demolition at the hands of the Ubaldinis, a powerful Bolognese family. As a result, the feud was then ruled by the Alidosi family, a powerful Ghibelline family of Imola.

Bologna again conquered the village that was reinforced by the will of Romeo Pepoli (on Pepoli see below). From the Alidosi Dozza then passed to Girolamo Riario and Caterina Sforza his wife at the end of the 15th century. At the end of the 15th century it was also occupied by the Duke of Valentinois [= Cesare Borgia (1475-1507)] December 13, 1499. In the Municipal Archive of Dozza is preserved one letter of Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI Borgia (1431-1503), sent from Cesena in 1501 (Januarii 1501) related to the payment of taxes both by Imola and others property owners of Dozza (9).

Dozza from the 16th century

In 1528 Dozza was granted by Pope Clement VII (1478-1534) to the Malvezzi family and in 1531 to the Campeggi family. The same Archive contains a copy of the bull of Pope Clement VII, "Bull of Pope Clement II for infeudation of the Castle of Dozza to illustrious Dominus Campeggi" R. Galli,"Dozza", in Mazzatinti, p.209).

In the first half of the 18th century, with the disappearance of the last descendant of the Campeggi family, Dozza returned to a member of the Malvezzi family, "Chirograph of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XIII (1650-1730) in favor of the Marquis Emilio Malvezzi. Rome, December 7, 1729" (Mazzatinti, p. 209). Then Dozza belonged to Francesca Maria Campeggi, married to Matthew Malvezzi.

Since that time the fortress of Dozza was called "Castle Malvezzi-Campeggi” (See “Dal Santerno al Panaro. Bologna e i Comuni della Provincia nella Storia, nell'Arte e nella Tradizione”, edited by Cesare Bianchi, Bologna, 1987, vol. III p. 57) (10).

The feud was abolished during the Napoleonic Age at the onset of the Cisalpine Republic but the ancient fortress belonged to the Malvezzi until 1960, when they sold it to the Municipality of Dozza.

Visit our Dozza travel guide for tourist and travel information.


1) AA.VV. “Piano strutturale comunale circondario imolese”, 2008, Vol. III, pp. 67 ff.

2) L. Casini, “Il territorio bolognese nell’ epoca romana”, in “Documenti e studi della Deputazione di storia patria per le province di Romagna”, 1887, p. 271.

3) F. Bandini, “Considerazioni sul territorio di Fratta Terme …”, “Documenti e studi”, Forlimpopoli, 2006, n. 17, p. 114 nota 88.

4) J. Ahokas, “Saggio di un glossario del Canavese …”, 1986 , p. 98).

5) P. Galetti-B. Andreolli, “Mulini, canali e comunità della pianura bolognese tra Medioevo e Ottocento”, CLUEB, 2009, p. 242.

6) N. Galassi, “Dieci secoli di storia ospitaliera a Imola”, Galeati, 1966, Vol. I, p. 84.

7) See S. Gaddoni-G. Zaccherini, "Chartularium Imolense", Imolae, 1912, Vol. II, p. 367-368).

8) N. Tamassia, “Odofredo. Studio storico giuridico”, in “Atti e Memorie della R. Deputazione di Storia Patria per le province di Romagna”, 1893-1894, Vol. XII, p. 95. “Dutiae” [1147] (p.156], “castri Dutiae” [1149], (p. 170) [Vol. I].

9) R. Galli, “Dozza”, in G. Mazzatinti, “Gli Archivi della Storia d’Italia”, 1897-‘98, Vol. I, p. 209

10) “Dal Santerno al Panaro. Bologna e i Comuni della Provincia nella Storia, nell'Arte e nella Tradizione”, edited by Cesare Bianchi, Bologna, 1987, vol. III p. 57.

11) C. Perogalli, “Castelli e rocche di Emilia e Romagna”, Görlich, 1972, p. 117.

12) V. Braidi, “La rivolta del pane. Bologna 1311”, in “Rivolte urbane e rivolte contadine nell’Europa del Trecento”, Firenze University Press, 2008, pp. 176 ff.

13) See G. Guidicini, “I riformatori dello stato di libertà della città di Bologna, dal 1394 al 1797”, 1876, Vol. II, p. 175.

14) A. Stanzani, “Aspetti del patrimonio culturale di Dozza tra Arte e storia”, in “Dozza città d’arte”, Provincia di Bologna, p. 3.