Comune di Cotignola
It has not yet reached Cotignola that the Tower of Giovanni Acuto is already visible
The first sight for visitors approaching Cotignola is the tower of John Hawkwood. Despite being a small town, Cotignola was actually the site of some important events in medieval history; the House of Sforza, one of the most important families of Renaissance, came from here.
The presence of several archaeological findings and the network of Roman roads suggest that the town was inhabited in pre-Christian times. In the 13th century Cotignola saw intense and continuous fighting that became more heated during the first half of the 15th century.
In 1376 the English mercenary leader John Hawkwood was granted some land by Pope Gregory XI, amongst which was the stronghold of Cotignola; he strengthened the town’s defences with ramparts and Cotignola became much more important. After this, the town was ruled by the House of
Este for a brief period, then by the Counts of Cunio; their name is particularly linked to the village of Barbiano, where the counts moved and built a fortress after the destruction of their castle. The famous mercenary leader Alberico da Barbiano was a descendant of the Counts of Cunio.
Muzio Attendolo Sforza was a soldier of the army of Alberico; in 1411 he received Cotignola from the Pope (who owned the town between 1409 and 1411).
When Muzio died, the town was inherited by his eldest son Francesco, who went on to become the Duke of Milan.
In 1495 the town was given the title of “Città” by Ludovico il Moro and the age of the House of Sforza was the period in which it underwent the most cultural and economic development. After this, it was ruled by the French, by the House of Este and then by the Pope until 1859.
The name Cotignola probably comes from quinces (cotogna), a kind of fruit traditionally widely available in the area. During World War II the town was severely damaged by bombs; it was later rebuilt trying to preserve as much as possible of its original layout.
THINGS TO SEE
Corso Sforza, 21 – Visits by appointment (tel. +39 0545 908870) and during temporary exhibitions
The palace was built by Giovanni Attendoli in 1376 and was the residence of the Sforza when they ruled Cotignola. In 1892 it was declared national art historical monument, but it was destroyed by bombs during World War II. When it was rebuilt in 1962, the surviving original architectural features were
restored; they included the terracotta coat of arms of the House of Sforza, which was the inspiration for the town’s coat of arms. The inner courtyard features the columns of the portico and the beautiful stele of Caio Vario (A.D. 30 – 49). Today Palazzo Sforza hosts art exhibitions and events. It houses the historical archive and the most important part of Museo Varoli (which also includes the nearby Casa Varoli and the arts and craft school “Scuola Arte e Mestieri”); the museum collection includes paintings, terracotta and wood sculptures by the local artist Luigi Varoli (1889 – 1958) and his large papier-mâché heads, which are caricature portraits of people from Cotignola.
TORRE DI GIOVANNI ACUTO
Corso Sforza, 24
This tower is the symbol of Cotignola. It was built in 1376 by the English mercenary leader John Hawkwood, whose name in Italian is Giovanni Acuto; he received this town from Pope Greg ory XI in 1370. German soldiers destroyed the tower in 1944; it was rebuilt in 1972 and had the town bell, known as E’ Campanòn, reinstalled. The bronze bell was made by Pier Francesco Censori in 1616; it bears a relief decoration and the inscription: “Arma – Ignem – Excubias – Senium – Sontesque – Senatum – Jubila” (I ring for wars, for fire, for guards, for the river Senio, for brigands, for the senate, for celebrations).
IN THE AREA
CHIESA DI SAN FRANCESCO AND TOMB OF THE HOUSE OF SFORZA
Via San Francesco, 15
This Gothic-Romanesque church was built between 1484 and 1494; it is about 1 km from the town centre. It houses the mummified body of Beato
Antonio Bonfadini, who died in 1482 and is commonly known as “the Saint of Cotignola”. The interior features a series of 16th century frescos, by an unknown painter, and the Pietà ascribed to Gerolamo Marchesi; these art works have astonishingly survived the war bombing. The 15th century lunette depicting the Pietà by the Zaganelli brothers is all that remains of an altarpiece which is now in Milan, in the Brera art gallery. The chapel with the tomb of the Sforza was also designed by the Zaganelli; it predates the church, but the two buildings are linked by an elegant portico.
The interior of the chapel is richly decorated with frescos, amongst which the recently uncovered ones in the apse, which have been ascribed to Marchesi.
CHIESA PARROCCHIALE DI SANTO STEFANO PROTOMARTIRE
Via Antica Pieve (Barbiano) – Tel. +39 0545 78043
The village of Barbiano is definitely worth visiting because of this Neoclassical church; it was built in 1792 and designed by the architect Cosimo Morelli. The dome and the tall bell tower are the most interesting architectural features. The interior houses altarpieces by Felice Torelli (1666 – 1748), a painter from Verona, and a painting from the Bolognese school of Carracci.
PIEVE ROMANICA DI BARBIANO
Via Antica Pieve (Barbiano)
This 10th century church lies next to the church of S. Stefano; it’s built in the harmonious Romanesque style that is typical of the area of Ravenna. The church is well preserved and the exterior has been appropriately restored.
Dates are subject to change. For information please visit the website www.romagnadeste.it
2nd HALF of MARCH – Segavecchia – Traditional feast Tel. +39 0545 42182
APRIL 25 – Nel Senio della Memoria – Remembrance day celebrating Battaglia del Senio, Resistance and the Constitution with theatre shows, music, history and tales Tel. +39 0544 866672 – ww.nelseniodellamemoria.it
LAST of MAY – Palio di Alberico da Barbiano Historical re-enactment event – Tel. +39 0545 908871 www.paliodialberico.it
2nd WEEK of JUNE – Limprovvisa – International Festival of the art of “commedia all’italiana” – www.teatrovivo.eu
1st of OCTOBER – Sagra del Vino Tipico / Cotignolarte Gourmet event and impromptu art competition Tel. +39 0545 908870
URP and Tourist Information Centre
Corso Sforza, 24 – Opening hours: Monday to Friday,
09:00 – 13:00; Tuesday and Thursday, 15:00 – 17:00
Tel. +39 0545 908871; fax +39 0545 908863