paolo farinati

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Matilda of Tuscany and Castello Bianello

I have been studying in Tuscany so I was keen to visit the ruined castle of the Great Countess, Matilda of Tuscany, in the small town of Canossa.

To cut a long story short, I got very close but didn’t quite make it. Although Matilda’s legacy is promoted in the area it turns out that visiting Canossa is incredibly difficult without your own car. I ended up stranded in the nearby town of Quattro Castella and decided to make the best of it by visiting their main castle, Castello Bianello.

As good luck would have it, the 10th century castle had actually been purchased by Matilda’s mother, Beatrice of Lorraine, and Matilda had been crowned there in 1111 as Imperial Vicar and Vice-Queen of Italy by the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry V.

As bad luck would have it, the castle was closed. All the same, I trekked up the hill to the castle and had a very eerie experience all alone amidst the forest at dusk. Despite being rather scary it was a beautiful place and being able to stand where Matilda stood made the whole ordeal (nine hours of travel) worth it!

The image used is an allegorical portrait of Matilda painted by Paolo Farinati in 1587 that I found whilst in Verona.