The historic ruin of Castellaccio, built between the 13th and 14th centuries on the hill to the west, is all that remains of the Alidosi family’s first residence.
Here in front of you stands the beautifully preserved Palazzo Alidosi, which dates back to the 16th century.
Historians have yet to agree on the name of the architect who designed it. Bramante and Francesco da Sangallo have been mentioned and there is currently a preference for the latter, through the precious work of local historian, Cesare Quinto Vivoli.
Construction of the building was initially commissioned by Cardinal Francesco Alidosi, with the aim of underlining the solidity of the Alidosi family’s power. It was continued by Cesare and Rizzardo Alidosi and finally completed around 1540.
The works began with great financial resources and a considerable workforce.
The initial project involved construction of a palace-fortress with four, highly pronounced lozenge-shaped bastions that enclosed a large courtyard surrounded by a loggia of twenty-four sandstone columns with a well in the centre.
A moat surrounded the building, and a three-arched bridge provided access to it. There is an orchard to the south, towards the village and in the basement, in addition to the cellars, there were two prisons, one for men and one for women.
The Palace, however, remained unfinished, as of the four planned bastions only two were built and can still be seen today along with the vast internal courtyard, where the Alidosian festivals are currently held.
There are three possible reasons why the work was not completed.
The first is that the Alidosi family progressively lost its power and money and consequently the ability to fund completion of the work;the second, that the family paid a small army to maintain the fiefdom and their money was used for other kinds of work;
the third possible explanation involves Obizzo Alidosi, the main financier and supporter of the work. Proclaimed governor of Ravenna in June 1509 following the conquest of the city by the Papal State, in August of the same year he was found dead perhaps due to a conspiracy against him. There was, therefore, no financial support to complete the work on the palace.
The Alidosi family left a fundamental mark on Castel del Rio and even today the inhabitants of the town are called Alidosians.
A true Renaissance jewel is the Cortiletto delle Fontane, which houses three beautiful shell-shaped fountains, while three sandstone columns support the loggia.
Under the vaults of the loggia, eight circular niches once housed the marble busts of the most important members of the family. Only one remains today, that of Lito - also called Lilo or Lippo - Alidosi, bishop of Imola and Cervia during the first half of the 14th century.
The building has been entirely restored inside and is now the town hall. It also houses a library, the War and Gothic Line museum, the Animal Tower and the education centre dedicated to the chestnut tree, typical to the Apennine area, and leading figure of the most important local festival, the Sagra del Marrone IGP, held on Sundays in October every year.
Lastly, a curiosity. There is a deep circular hollow in the north wall of the Palace, the one overlooking the airplane owned by the War Museum. The castle was wounded as it were, by a German attack in autumn 1944. The unexploded bomb is still stuck in the wall.
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