Casalecchio di Reno is an Italian municipality of 36.555 inhabitants of the metropolitan city of Bologna, in Emilia-Romagna.
The name of the place, Casalecchio, is of Roman origin: Casaliculum, which in medieval Latin means “small agglomeration of houses”.
The human presence in the area dates back to the Paleolithic, considered the “scrapers” and other findings of ceramic and lithic materials relating to that period. In the city there are also testimonies of the presence of the Villanovan, Etruscan, Celtic and Roman civilizations (the Roman aqueduct and the centuriation). During the barbarian invasions, the cities located on the consular roads depopulated and the inhabitants gathered in the mountains.
Around the year 1000, Casalecchio, with the construction of the lock, the Reno canal, the rebuilding of the bridge over the Rhine, began to have documented stories of a certain importance: castles, fortresses and strongholds were built. For over three centuries the city was devastated by the wars of factions linked to Bologna, often becoming a battleground and therefore of raiding armies. In particular, Casalecchio was the scene of the homonymous battle, fought on June 26, 1402 between the Bolognese army – under the orders of Giovanni I Bentivoglio – and with that of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan, and his allies.
From the second half of the sixteenth century there was a productive and constructive recovery: villas, oratories, churches were born and farm cultivations intensified. Casalecchio became one of the most sought after and admired territories of Bologna, thanks to the villas surrounded by suggestive parks and rich gardens.
Towards the 19th century, the industrial revolution brought about the transformation and increase of factories, factories, communication routes and means of transport. The First World War left signs of mourning and pain in the city but it was with the Second World War that there was a real destruction: Casalecchio was in fact one of the cities most affected by air raids and bombings.
The reconstruction period was particularly intense and required the involvement of all sectors of the economy and in particular the construction sector, the real driving force of the economic recovery. In the post-war period, Casalecchio recorded an increase in rate of population far higher than all the municipalities of the province, including the capital.
Casalecchio is a crucial node for the entire Bolognese water system: here is the imposing Chiusa del Reno, the oldest hydraulic work in Europe still in operation and used continuously, and from here starts the Reno Canal, along which runs a beautiful cycle path that allows a peaceful connection in the green up to Bologna.
Let’s discover together this jewel of Emilia Romagna!
Parco della Chiusa
Also known as Talon Park, the Chiusa Park is made up of the former possessions of the Marquis Sampieri Talon, who built several villas here since the 17th century.
The park has experienced moments of great worldly splendor, especially in the 18th century. In the nineteenth century Stendhal, a frequent visitor to these places, compared it to the “Bois de Boulogne”.
Since 1975 the park has been owned by the city and has been open to the public. Even today, it is possible to imagine its ancient noble splendor by walking along tree-lined avenues, stopping in large English lawns and crossing groves designed specifically to get lost in it.
Here and there we can recognize the ruins of the artificial architectural inventions, for which scholars also mention the name of the famous architect and scenographer Ferdinando Galli Bibiena.
The Chiusa di Casalecchio is also important from a historical point of view. The subsoil of the park is also crossed by a Roman aqueduct dating back to 100 BC, still functioning and leading the water of the Setta stream, collected about ten kilometers upstream, up to the center of Bologna.
The current structure of the park suggests the original design: around the two villas there was a large garden, built according to the canons of the French school of Le Notre, then a small Italian garden, finally a large English park that it opened suggestive glimpses of the river and surrounding fields and vineyards. The picture was completed by a pond, statues, kiosks, and exotic settings, according to the tastes of the time. Behind the villas, on the steep slope of the hill, there is the wood, a hunting and timber reserve. The park has experienced moments of great worldly splendor, particularly in the 18th century, and has hosted celebrations and celebrities. Since 1975 the park has been owned by the city and has been open to the public, and although time and history have had a serious impact, it is still possible to imagine the ancient noble splendor. It currently constitutes an invaluable public heritage, visited every day by hundreds of citizens, with historical and naturalistic evidence of great value. The park is crossed by the Sentiero dei Bregoli.
In spring and summer, the park is the evocative setting for cultural events and festivals, such as the Kite Festival which takes place on May 1st.
Church of San Giovanni Battista
Of the four modern churches, built in Casalecchio after the war, the most central and architecturally highly admired for its artistic qualities and for its happy position, it is that of San Giovanni Battista in Via Marconi, next to the public gardens, along the bank of the Rhine river.
This church parish was inaugurated on June 14th1967 and solemnly consecrated on the 16th September 1967 from Cardinal of Bologna Giacomo Lercaro.
The work went on for almost 5 years as the foundation stone was laid on December 24, 1962. The author of the project was the architect Melchiorre Bega, of fame international, that yes dedicated to such new work (it’s the only church designed by him) with particular effort, also visiting the most modern churches in Europe and the Orient. The plan is polygonal, a Greek cross, and occupies an area of 1200sqm. It is composed of 4 naves, of which 3 for the faithful and one for liturgical services.
The altar located in the center of the church consists of a block of sandstone from weight of 40 quintals. Even the tabernacle is a work of artistic importance being one bronze casting of six quintals by the sculptor Vignoli, professor of sculpture of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna.
The floor of the church is in Tuscan terracotta, coming from the Impruneta area. Always inside, the visible concrete structures are enlivened by the coating in white marble grit on the walls that give greater brightness to the whole.
The external walls are covered with yellow-golden sandstone blocks from Montovolo, in our Bolognese Apennines.
Another original element is the Baptistery, located on the left side of the facade. It is plan square, with access from inside and outside, with stone baptismal font sandstone and with a bronze statue, representing St. John the Baptist, by sculptor Luciano Minguzzi. On the upper wall of the facade stands a stained-glass window with particularly original and striking bronze sculptural decorations; also the wide staircase, flanked by slightly sloping gardens, constitute a whole harmonious of elegance and simplicity.
Eremo di Tizzano
The sanctuary of the Holy Crucifix in the Parish of SS. Giovanni Battista and Benedetto di Tizzano, better known simply as Eremo di Tizzano, is a church in Casalecchio di Reno, in the metropolitan city of Bologna.
The construction of the monastery began in 1655 at the behest of the Camaldolese monks. The works ended only in about 1741, when the church was consecrated to Saint Benedict.
In 1799 the old church of Tizzano, dedicated to San Giovanni Battista, was closed by the French Directory and the church of the Hermitage became a parish in its place. The new parish thus had two patron saints: St. Benedict, in memory of the monastic community, and St. John the Baptist, an ancient titular.
The Hermitage is located in Tizzano, a small hamlet of only 14 inhabitants in the municipality of Casalecchio di Reno. It stands on a hill 243 m above sea level, from which you can enjoy a splendid panorama that sweeps over the entire Bolognese plain. You can see the Rhine valley on the right, in front of the Sanctuary of San Luca and, in the absence of mist, up to Monte Mario and Badolo.
Outside it has a simple and elegant Bolognese Baroque style. On the left side of the building stands the bell tower, built in 1724 and once inhabited by the Prior. The remains of two of the original seventeen cells for hermit monks are visible in the large lawn on the back. From there you can also access a secondary church, a sort of consecrated cellar, which at the time of the Second World War served as a refuge.
Inside, the single nave, high and bright, is surrounded by six side chapels, connected to each other by narrow passages and decorated with pictorial works of excellent workmanship. The most important work of art preserved inside is a wooden crucifix located in the second chapel on the left, datable to the second half of the 16th century. At the base of the crucifix there is a reliquary which, according to tradition, would hold fragments of the True Cross and other relics.
The small parish of Tizzano celebrates its crucifix on May 3rd. In the event that it falls on a Friday, the celebrations have a particular solemnity.
Church of San Martino
The church of San Martino Vescovo is the cathedral of Casalecchio di Reno, in the metropolitan city and archdiocese of Bologna; it is the seat of a parish included in the vicariate of Bologna Ovest.
The parish church of San Martino di Casalecchio di Reno is located immediately after the curve of Villa Ghillini. The building was built in a dominant position, facing the hill and the woods of Monte Castello. The original complex, which revolved around the church and monastery, lived alternating vicissitudes over the centuries: around the year 1000 it was destroyed and immediately rebuilt to witness the subsequent decay of the convent and the conservation of the church which was managed by the canons of Santa Maria di Reno. In its present forms San Martino is relatively recent: the ancient building was in fact redesigned by the architect Edoardo Collamarini, in 1926. The church was then consecrated and opened again in 1937 by the archbishop of Bologna Giovanni Battista Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano. Inside there are important works of art, among which the painting depicting “the Blessed Virgin with Santa Lucia and Sant ‘Agata” by Dioniso Calvart emerges. In the 1930s the restoration work had not yet been completed: the old bell tower (demolished) no longer exists and the new one (still existing) is missing on the left; the facade was also not completed. On the right there is the access gate to the avenue that leads to Villa Talon.
In the VII century in Casalecchio a monastery was founded by the Martinian friars, which was destroyed in 974 by the Hungarians; it was rebuilt in 1074. From documents of 1378 it is known that this church depended on the parish church of Bologna and was included in the district of Porta Procula ; in 1558 it became a branch of the parish of Pontecchio and, in 1570, it passed under the jurisdiction of the parish of Borgo Panigale .
The church was rebuilt in 1665 and was enlarged between 1874 and 1913. In the first half of the twentieth century this building was demolished to make room for the new church, whose project, originally developed by Edoardo Collamarini, was later modified by Luigi Saccenti: it was built between 1926 and 1937 and consecrated in that same year by Archbishop of Bologna Giovanni Battista Nasalli Rocca of Corneliano. The bell tower was erected between 1937 and 1938 on a design by Luigi Saccenti and, between 1940 and 1942, the interior of the parish church was arranged. During the Second World War the church suffered damage and between 1945 and 1946 it was completely restored. In 1987 the roof was waterproofed by water and in 1989 the organ was placed.
Valuable works preserved inside the church, with three naves, are an altarpiece with the subject of the Blessed Virgin Mary together with Saints Lucia and Agata, by Denijs Calvaert, the frescoes painted by Lambertini, the images of the Four Evangelists and the organ, built in 1989 by Francesco Guglielmo Paccagnella.
Chiusa di Casalecchio
The Chiusa di Casalecchio is located almost in the middle of the course of the Rhine, that is 83 kilometers from the source (which is on Monte delle Piastre, in Pruneta, 900 meters above sea level) and 128 kilometers from Torre di Primaro, where the river flows in the Adriatic, after crossing the plains of Bologna, Ferrara and Ravenna.
This is a major hydraulic work due to the fundamental role it played in the Bolognese silk industry, a driving sector of the local economy between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries. The lock of Casalecchio, in fact, was at that time the largest supplier of water necessary for silk spinning machine
Even today the imposing barrier of the Rhine and the mighty walls that support the canal arouse admiration in the beholder, but even greater is the wonder if we consider that Casalecchio is the oldest hydraulic work in Europe still in operation and used in a continuous and uninterrupted.
The Chiusa and the Reno Canal, through the centuries (and especially in the last fifty years) have been able to renew and adapt their functions to the changed needs of the economy and the environment. The canal begins in Casalecchio, where the majestic Chiusa (160.45 meters long, on average 35.45 meters wide, with a slip of 34.55 meters and a drop of 8.25 meters) blocks the river. Through an incile, called “Il Boccaccio”, located on the right bank, water is derived into the canal.
In the Farnese room of the Palazzo Comunale in Bologna there is a fresco, dating from 1658-1660 and made by Antonio Catalani called “Il Romano”, which portrays Cardinal Albornoz in the act of examining
From the creation of the Reno canal until the outbreak of the Second World War, it was a tradition that, during the dry season, a commission of technicians walked the banks of the Reno canal, from Bologna to the Casalecchio lock, to ascertain the work to be done. to execute. The visit used to end with a lunch offered by the wife of the steward, who was thanked with the right to mow and sell the grass from the driveway to the lock. The lunch always had, at least in the twentieth century, the same menu, which included wines from the estate of the Marquis Talon Sampieri, cold cuts and croutons, tagliatelle with chicken giblet ragù, buconotti (vol-au-vent) stuffed, mixed roast meat and chicken, curly pie, strawberries and ice cream
Symbol of the motive energy that has allowed the city of Bologna and its plain to grow luxuriantly, it has also assumed a symbolic value of equal strength and importance: at the end of 2010 the Chiusa di Casalecchio di Reno was included in the UNESCO program list 2000-2010 of the messenger heritage of a culture of peace for young people.
Via degli Dei
Each stage of the Via degli Dei is rich in history, nature, culture and food and wine, four words that tell our country.
We start from Bologna, the symbol of this “minor” Italy but which offers hidden treasures, we pass by San Luca with its arches, which for us are a source of security but which excite travelers who arrive at the sanctuary with effort and enthusiasm. You then descend down from the bregoli (Casalecchio di Reno), the historic Easter Monday route for the Bolognese and, along the Rhine, you get to Sasso Marconi, meeting places that hide real treasures (the Roman aqueduct, the oasis of San Gherardo, the Ponte di Vizzano …) and continue to reach the protected area of the Pliocene Buttress with its fossils and its particular vegetation (and along the way you can discover the centuries-old vine of Fantini, the Nova Arbora botanical garden, the columbarium of Monte del Frate…). And if tiredness has the upper hand for a moment, not far away, there is always a restaurant that offers typical and traditional cuisine.
When the road starts again, we start again towards Monzuno (a stop from the butcher / charcuterie Zivieri is a must because Italy is also its flavors!) And then towards Madonna dei Fornelli, a tourist resort for our grandparents who lives by a second youth thanks to the Via degli Dei, there are multiple sections of the Roman road Flaminia Militare, the largest German cemetery in Italy (with 30,000 corpses) at the Passo della Futa and immense green meadows that alternate with different woods from each other (the many centuries-old chestnut trees along the way testify to how once these trees were important for the populations of our areas to which they gave nourishment and warmth). And again, now in Tuscany, the 1175 Pieve of Sant’Agata with its museums of sacred art and peasant art, as if the two attractions went in parallel, the long road that then leads to San Piero a Sieve and to various places suggestive and hidden (the Bosco ai Frati convent, one of the oldest in Tuscany; the Trebbio Castle, loved by Lorenzo the Magnificent and even inhabited by Amerigo Vespucci; the Monte Senario convent).
Casa del Ghiaccio
The world of cinema and television has frequently been inspired by the numerous waterways of the Emilian capital for the suggestions they arouse, but now tourism also finds considerable interests. In fact, many canals of Bologna have been made accessible on foot, by bicycle and by rubber boat even in underground urban areas.
The Bolognese water system allows the safety of the city and the countryside, because thanks to the channels connected to each other and through the water pumps it is possible to manage excess water and avoid floods.
The Scaletta Paraporto is also part of the complex artificial hydraulic system of Bologna and its province, also called “The Ice House”, located within the Municipality of Casalecchio di Reno and inaugurated after the renovation in May 2009; now it is an important point on the tourist route to visit the Bolognese waters.
The plant still in operation prevents the various materials carried by the water from being deposited, as it performs a cleaning function.
At one time, in winter, the ice sheets that formed on the surface were poured from the plant into the Rhine river thus preventing the wheels of the mills in the city from spoiling; hence the name Casa del Ghiaccio.
The document preserved in the historical archive of the Consorzio della Chiusa di Casalecchio and the Reno Canal bears an important signature: it is certified that the architect of the building was Jacopo Barozzi called “Il Vignola” (1507-1573), he intervened on a system pre-existing, probably contemporary to the birth of the canal (around the year 1000).