Le Terre Matildiche

Nestled between the low foothills of the Apennines and the Po plain, Barbaterre is a strategic location for setting out on a journey to explore this part of the Emilia region. Those wanting to immerse themselves in history will find a wealth of attractions in the lands that once belonged to Matilda of Canossa, just as anyone seeking to escape from the frenzy of urban life will be soothed by immersing themselves in nature here, and last but not least, the cuisine of Reggio Emilia will more than satisfy those who want to taste the traditional local flavours and recipes. No visitor exploring the places around Barbaterre will be disappointed: everyone will have a reason for feeling fulfilled in body and spirit.


While travelling through the area around Barbaterre it is impossible not to be impressed and intrigued by its stunning historical landmarks. As already mentioned, these lands were once the estates of Matilda of Canossa and the centre of her political power. Canossa Castle, Bianello Castle, Rossena Castle and many more are the visible legacy of a historical period when this area was at the centre of various key political and religious events during the late Middle Ages.


Barbaterre is situated in Bergonzano di Quattro Castella, near the Oasi di Bianello, an interesting nature reserve created by the Italian League for Bird Protection (LIPU) in 1981. The area is home to four unusual hills, hence the name of the town of Quattro Castella, which translates as ‘four castles’. The four hills, in succession from west to east, are the Zagno, Lucio, Bianello and Vetro Hills. This area is a charming example of the habitat of the lower Apennines in the Reggio Emilia province, where extensive wooded areas are home to several trails offering a fascinating synergy between the environment and nature, with a wealth of interesting flora and fauna.

Food and Wine

A gastronomical experience in the Reggio Emilia food landscape necessarily has to start from Parmigiano Reggiano. This legendary product can be tasted first hand by visiting one of the many dairies dotted around the area. Reggio Emilia’s cuisine has strong links with rural food culture, where even the humblest ingredients are turned into delicacies. Then you will be able to taste different recipes emblematic of the area like a “simple” sliver of Parmigiano Reggiano with a few drops of traditional Reggio Emilia balsamic vinegar, a perfect combination of two excellent food products from the area.


The area around Barbaterre offers a wealth of interesting architectural and artistic sites. They include castles, churches and watchtowers, as well as solitary hermitages, medieval churches and ancient fortresses. But since we are so close to the cities of Parma and Reggio Emilia, there are many more attractions for art lovers to explore nearby. These two cities in the Emilia region are home to major museum complexes and countless sites of artistic interest. The main sights are the magnificent Cathedral and Baptistery in the Parma town centre and the Valli Theatre and San Prospero basilica in Reggio Emilia. But both cities offer many more attractions to discover and admire.


No other event is such a quintessential representation of this region as the Matildic historical parade known as Corteo Storico Matildico. It was first held in the early 1950s with the aim of revitalizing and promoting the Quattro Castella area by evoking its glorious past. The historical re-enactment faithfully recreates the atmosphere of the period with meticulous attention to detail. Le diverse contrade sfilano per le strade del borgo e al tramonto il passaggio di Matilde è acclamato dai propri sudditi.

Photo of Andrea Luiselli – su


Barbaterre’s surrounding area offers a range of activities to relax body and mind. Rock climbing and trekking enthusiasts will enjoy the challenge of tackling the stunning Pietra di Bismantova rock, situated in the Municipality of Castelnovo de Monti. For the less daring, the trails inside the Oasi di Bianello nature reserve, created by the Italian League for Bird Protection (LIPU), offer an exciting chance to admire the typical flora and fauna of the lower Apennines. Yet another alternative is the nature park of Vezzano sul Crostolo, an area spreading across 55 hectares of land featuring spectacular geological formations and landscapes, as well as various wildlife species roaming freely through woods, gullies and pine forests. For a taste of the local art and culture scene, visitors will find various attractions in the nearby city of Reggio Emilia, like the Museo del Tricolore, a museum dedicated to the history of the Italian flag, the Maramotti art gallery, featuring a wealth of contemporary artworks, and the Spazio Gerra exhibition centre. The magnificent Rocca dei Boiardo castle in the town centre of nearby Scandiano is also well worth a visit.

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