The Sforza Fortress of Imola

Since 1989 a part of Rocca Sforzesca di Imola is the headquarter of Imola’s  “Incontri col Maestro” Academy, since the local Administration, judging this institution of particular interest for the cultural and musical development for Imola, has allowed to the use of Palazzetto “del cortile del soccorso”, located right inside the  Rocca. The Palazzetto was built after 1480 on Girolamo Riario and Caterina Sforza’s will, to let her live in it with her court.  Accademia di Imola takes two conference halls and some rooms on the first floor, which are dedicated to classes, administration, library and students’ hall. The origins of Rocca di Imola go back to the 13th century, when Imola acquired the Aquaviva family lands, to build a fortress to oppose to the Emperor’s power symbol: the castle under Frederick 2nd, whose we haven’t any trace left, lied on the Eastern part of the town, in direction Faenza. The first structure of Rocca was not the present one, but it’s the result of later refurbishing. The primitive 14th-century frame, risen around a squared tower, had a squared development, four squared towers on the corners, you can still see the remains inside the current round towers. We must ideally add five other towers located around the curtain walls, as it is testified by evidence of traces. Under Alidosi’s reign first and  Manfredi’s in a second moment, the fortress defence line was developed, thanks to a large moat around the building. The Rocca kept on this way until 1471, when it was passed on to Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan. It was Sforza, indeed, the one to send his military engineer Danesio Maineri to Imola, appointing him to transform the Rocca. He decided to take away the scalloped edge on the top of the curtain walls and, in 1472-74, he ordered the refurbishing of the walls, features which give the Rocca that prerogative of Renaissance fortress. The squared towers were transformed as well to resist to the bumps during attacks, and two outworks were added on the entrance door, communicating with by steady and draw-bridges. Among many historical events, it must be reminded about the unstoppable siege of the Rocca, by Cesare Borgia in 1499, which caused Caterina Riario Sforza to give up on her Imola domain. First Cesare Borgia, then Clemente 7th  appointed three of that time’s greatest military engineers: Leonardo da Vinci, Sangallo and Sanmicheli. After a period of high and low fortune, when the public administration was run by outstanding personalities, such as Guicciardini, the Rocca was gradually declined and became a prison. The important restoring works on the fortress from 1959 to 1973, by the local Administration and Antiques and Art Ministry, allowed the complete entry of this monument into the urban city frame and, inside the building, a permanent exhibition of ancient weapons and a rich collection of mediaeval and Renaissance pottery found inside the fortress. The large courtyard is used as an open-air theatre, where many musical and artistic events take place.