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Dozza is a small town of very ancient origins located on a hill near Imola and Bologna, between the village of Toscanella (which is rich in ancient remains) and the Sillaro river.
The Fortress: a true Renaissance Manor
The principal historic monument in Dozza is the fortress. According to experts the Fortress of Dozza dates from 1250. It was then destroyed during conflicts with Bologna and later restored by Romeo Pepoli in 1310, also at the command of Bologna.
The reconstruction of Dozza occurred in one of the most terrible moments of the history of Bologna, which was in desperate need of money to restore the city's infrastructure, the fortresses around it and especially the area devastated by the war against Ferrara (at that time ruled by Azzo d'Este) and by repeated flooding events.
The flooding was often intentionally caused by Ferrara as part of a plan to starve Bologna and its suburbs. And it worked perfectly, because Bologna around 1310 suffered one of the worst economic crisis of its history and the peasants had to abandon their homes, fields, castles and villages to escape the famine and debts. Bologna had recourse to Romeo Pepoli...
Romeo Pepoli was the Bolognese banker and usurer mentioned by the chronicler Giovanni Villani as almost the unique master of Bologna, and perhaps the richest citizen of Italy at that time. He became the pivot point of the financial reconstruction of Bologna, as his presence and consent became an essential condition for any building program to be approved by the communal institutions that routinely had to rely on his financial resources.
Thanks to him, for example, the castles of Nonantola and Crevalcore were restored to safeguard the Bolognese border with Modena (12). Also the castle of Dozza was restored by Romeo Pepoli who obtained “full powers to carry out necessary work" from the Bolognese authority council (Braidi, p. 262).
Later, the castle was again restored in 1494 by the Florentine architect Giorgio Marchesi on behalf of Caterina Sforza (1463-1509), Princess of Imola and Dozza.
Visiting the Fortress of Dozza
Today, the fortress is a museum and Dozza is the seat of the regional wine-house.
From the picturesque drawbridge you enter a small courtyard that leads to a more structured and large courtyard, with a porch in the Renaissance style and a loggia with arches supported by elegant columns that make the fortress of Dozza a true Renaissance manor. The rooms are decorated with many original furnishings, coffered ceilings and a collection of paintings of the era, among which several portraits of the Malvezzi family.
You can see a portrait of the Marquis Malvezzi and of his family, his sons and his wife Teresa Sacchetti painted by the Bolognese painter Felice Torelli between 1711 and 1713. The museum also preserves the "Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and St. Margaret," by Marco Palmezzano (1459/1463-1559).
Other Dozza highlights - painted walls
Dozza is also well known for the many paintings that adorn the facades of the houses and give it a distinctive appearance. The Biennial event of the Painted Wall is one the most important exhibitions of Dozza, where famous national and international artists create permanent works on the walls of the houses the city very much a work of art in itself, thanks to these murals.
Since ancient times Dozza has also been known for its fertile soil and wines, and today the fortress exhibits some of the most prestigious of these local wines.