Raimondo Montecuccoli

Municipality of Montefiorino.
Montefiorino between past and present

Built on a rocky spur 797 metres above sea level and dominated by its striking medieval fortress, Montefiorino stands out for its dominant position over the valleys of the Dolo and Dragone streams. 

Ancient documents from 1170 tell how the laying of the first stone of the tower perched on the mount known as Montefiorino, was the work of the abbot Guglielmo from Frassinoro with the help of the vice-lord, Bernardo da Montecuccolo. The objective was to create a defensive position on the occasion of an imminent war with Modena.

The tower served as the keep around which 150 years later the castle would rise, which was to undergo much rebuilding and alteration over the ensuing centuries.

Between 1240 and 1247 the castle was the site of devastating bloody battles which damaged its structure resulting in its being abandoned until 1278, the year when it was decided to reconstruct the parts that had been destroyed and lower the hazardous high fortress to 13 metres.

From the year 1320, Montefiorino once again came under the control of the great fiefdom of the Montecuccoli family starting with the patriarch Guglielmino and his son Baldassarre I and later, Guidinello. In this period a new castle was built along with a new tower to the south of the village.

Of great importance for Montefiorino was the visit in 1369 of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, which affirmed the power and prestige of the Montecuccoli, and allowed them to add the imperial eagle to the family crest. But these were far from peaceful times: exasperated with the oppression from the powerful feudatories, the population rose up twice against the Montecuccoli appealing to the Este family who finally granted autonomy to Montefiorino in 1426, designating it a Podesteria and holding possession of it uninterruptedly until 1796. 

At this point we fast forward 150 years and have a swift look at some significant events during the Second World War that affected these places.

Montefiorino and the rest of the western Apennines of Modenese were the site of atrocious fierce battles between the German army and the partisan troops who, between June and August of 1944, liberated the territory of the Partisan Republic, and Montefiorino became the seat of the first democratic Italian government.

Since 1979 the castle has been home to a Resistance Museum, devoted to the events of the last world war but above all to the life of the Partisan Republic of Montefiorino. The museum has displays of objects, weapons, documents and photographs which, along with films, tell and commemorate the stories of the leading players of the time.

Of undoubted interest is the architecture of the castle, commonly nicknamed the Rocca the Fortress.

Its massive bulk is currently divided into four main buildings which enclose a rectangular courtyard dominated by the keep. It is surrounded on three sides by a loggia on top of a portico from which we gain access to the “Sala della Ragione”, once used to administer justice. On the portal, constructed from accurately squared-off stones, is the Montecuccoli crest not yet sporting the Imperial eagle and therefore probably dating back to before Emperor Charles IV’s visit.

The castle complex built in the 1300s also includes the tower known as Torre del Mercato, situated in the village. This collapsed and was rebuilt several times until it acquired its current appearance as a belltower. At its base it is possible to make out the original walling, some loopholes and, higher up, some small windows.

From Montefiorino it is possible to walk in the footsteps of the ancient pilgrims by following the Via Bibulca route through some spectacular natural beauty, and also visit the striking Romanesque church of Rubbiano.