Destroyed by Federico Barbarossa in 1167, it was rebuilt with tough towers and passed to Roberti of Reggio Emilia. Towards 1420 it passed under the rule of the Estensi, from 1501 to a branch of the Estensi’s family and from the second half of the eighteenth century to the Rango d’Aragona.
There is a long and fascinating story behind the Rocca Estense of San Martino in Rio (Reggio Emilia), which can be visited every Sunday morning. Its quadrangular structure retains an intact square corner tower with Ghibelline merlature. On the ground floor there is the Museum of Agriculture and Rural World, with a room that keeps traces of ceiling decorations (XV century) depicting Estonian firms; always on the ground floor is worth a visit to the Chapel of St. John, built in 1395, which still retains the brickwork of the portal, the apse and the original marble altar in Verona with a sandstone arms of Roberti from Tripoli and a precious San Martino, always in sandstone. On the grand floor, however, the large lobby has a piece of original ceiling decorated in the 17th century.
From the entrance hall you can access to the large west wing halls, which were rebuilt at the beginning of the 18th century to transform the ancient fortress into a noble residence. From here you go to the Theater Room, which was used for this purpose from the middle of the nineteenth century to the thirties, and then to the Marquis of San Martino’s apartment: here the walls and vaults have been redecorated for the will of the last Marquis, Don Paolo d’Aragona, with backgrounds and lakeside landscapes.
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