Bartolomeo de' Rossi, a wealthy merchant of Parma who moved to Bologna, chose carefully where to build his sumptuous mansion (the most magnificent in the Bolognese countryside at the time), where Ladies, Knights and Pages had the opportunity to spend hours of pleasure and relaxation, enjoying the delightful countryside way of living, far from the war, as it appeared to historian Leandro Alberti (16th century) who described the castle as "one of those rare places that can be found for the pleasures and amusements of mankind."
He wanted the residence to be in the outskirts of Bologna, near the river Rhine, surrounded by a rich farm estate, in the valley between the last hills of the Apennines and the beautiful Badlands, so often painted by the Bolognese artists. He endowed it with "wheat mills and manufacturing paper machines; an expensive canal was designed to provide these buildings with water energy”, mechanical saws to cut timbers, a huge dovecote and stables for nearly a hundred horses.
The Castle was built on two levels in order to have a sunny side and a shady and cooler one, over both rivers of the Rhine Canal, built by de’ Rossi to ensure with water the driving force necessary for all levels of the Castle, and for the Hamlet, which was erected nearby and whose court skirts the Canal.
The Castle and the Village were autonomous, they had everything they needed: beautiful crops, fishponds, stables, orchards, mills and sawmills. The inhabitants, took care of agriculture and all that was necessary to its management. Their homes-shops still overlook on the village square dominated by the Manor House and the Dovecote Tower.
The warm colors of stone and cotto-bricks so combined with the surrounding nature, the ribbed vaults of the Castle, the grand and harmonious courtyard are difficult to forget.
The courts, halls, airy loggia’s and the large windows open onto the surrounding countryside and the wonderful Italian asymmetrical garden, take us back in time and provide us with a stunning backdrop of spacious and elegant spaces that recall suggestive drawings with this magical atmosphere.
The elegant building, with elements of late Gothic fortification reconciled in a decorative taste following the style of the early Bolognese Renaissance, was completed by the children of Bartholomew, Nestor and Mino, in 1500.
Famous people who have stayed there for a long time: Giovanni II Bentivoglio and his family were guests of great respect; later in the winter of 1507 Pope Julius II della Rovere (who the year before had come to Bologna leading the Papal army and had shot down the longlasting Bentivoglio ruling) made a great arrival with a peaceful delegation of 400 people and 400 horses (depicted in a painting by 1730) welcomed by sumptuous lunches and celebrations; the Pope was grateful “ordering his clerics to give to the people who gathered for his arrival, beautiful minted coins".
Others papal visits were: Leo X de Medici in the winter 1515-1516, which being close friend to Luigi de' Rossi (highly influential cardinal) elevated the fief of the de’ Rossi Family with the title of Count-Shire, attributing jurisdiction over neighboring lands; Paul III Farnese Pope of the Council of Trent, was a guest in 1543 of count Ludovico de' Rossi; Benedict XIV Lambertini, Archbishop of Bologna from 1731 to 1754.
Ludovico de' Rossi should be remembered for the great care he used in restoring the Castle in damaged or destroyed parts by the passage in 1527 of the famous Landsknechts (in the pay of Charles III Duke of Bourbon) that burned, looted, killed and plundered also this area.
The son of Louis, the cultured Gian Galeazzo, was a close friend and benefactor of famous poet Torquato Tasso and wanted him to be his guest in 1586.
In the late eighteenth century Camillo Turrini de' Rossi removed the ancient tower on the side of Castle (arguing that "it wasn't of any symmetry in the palazzo and looked detached from it") and changed the garden which was decorated with roses, lemon and orange trees, turning it into an Italian garden as was fashionable at the time.
From fortified Castle (albeit with military features much mitigated) became the "Palazzo de' Rossi" handed down to the present day.
Turned in property of the Marquis Bevilacqua Ariosti, heirs of De’ Rossi and Marsili families, spared by the bombs of World War II (but still heavily damaged) as it was a military hospital, at the end of the 20th century it has been completely restored to its former beauty.
Palazzo de' Rossi and the Hamlet are still owned by the Bevilacqua Ariosti family, they have a private apartment on the top floor of the building, and in other areas they host events and parties just as in the past when glitzy receptions held at Palazzo de’ Rossi with Papal and Imperial guests.
In the last century other distinguished guests visited Palazzo de ' Rossi: natural scientist Luigi Ferdinando Marsili, scientist and Nobel Price Guglielmo Marconi with his wife Cristina Bezzi-Scali and daughter Elettra Marconi, French President Francois Mitterrand, english Prime Minister Tony Blair, Ethel Kennedy, Italian Prime Ministers Romano Prodi and Giulio Andreotti, Italian singers Zucchero and Ornella Vanoni and the Rectors of leading universities in the world who gathered for the ninth centenary of the University of Bologna.
A massive project concerned an overall renovation plan of the village to give it new life. Keystones of the revival are:
- albergo diffuso – widespread hotel in all ancient buildings of village and castle
- gourmet dining
- (health and wellness)
Palazzo de ' Rossi also has a high potential for initiatives in science and research, art and culture.