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Rocchetta Mattei and the Villino Romito

160 years of history finally open to the public. Greatness, decline, and finally the great rebirth thanks to local companies and their community. Below is its history, some curiosities, and what to see in the surrounding area.


Rocchetta Mattei was built on the ruins of an old medieval castle by Count Cesare Mattei from whom it takes its name. The birth of the fortress occurs following the death of Cesare's mother, which pushes her son, after his disappointing political experience, to want to purchase the ancient ruins of a medieval fortress to build a fortress, and where he can study and spread his "new medicine" (1850).

In the following years, he dedicated all his energy and knowledge to the study and dissemination of this alternative medicine of his which he gave the name of Electrohomeopathy. This new practice ensured him worldwide fame, bringing people from all over the world to the Rocchetta! Following his death in 1896, his business was continued successfully by his heirs until 1959. In that year, Rocchetta Mattei was sold to the wife of a local merchant named Primo Stefanelli, known as “Il Mercantone ”. The latter transformed it into a playground (read the curiosities below) until it was unfortunately abandoned in the 1980s.

Built on a rocky spur, the Rocchetta is a bizarre and fantastic construction with a mysterious charm, designed and surrounded by various styles: the prevailing one is the Moorish one, copied from the Alhambra in Granada and the mosque-cathedral of Cordoba. Villas and health resorts were built near the Rocchetta, which hosted a varied international clientele and blue-blooded personalities, such as the Prince of Bavaria and Tsar Alexander II.

Cesare Mattei's medicinal preparations were even mentioned in Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov.

Mattei was helped in his construction of the Rocchetta by the painter Giulio Ferrari, by a master builder, and by a united group of workers who worked incessantly for the entire time the count remained alive.


What is most striking is the variety of architectural styles that differ in every corner, and which leave you speechless.

Among the most beautiful rooms, we find:

  • Saloon of Ninety: desired by the Count for his ninetieth birthday in the company of ninety peers, a wish that did not come true because his death occurred at the age of 87.

  • Courtyard of the Lions: it constitutes the Moorish heart of the castle inspired by the Patio de Los Leones of the Alhambra in Granada. At its center is the fountain of lions supporting a decorated fountain.

  • Music room: inside there is a valuable original piano surrounded by numerous authentic pieces of furniture. Furthermore, you are accompanied by a kind of very ancient turntable, made of fine wood, which still works today! The music you listen to is enchanting. The guide will explain and show the functioning and recording of the records of the time, which will leave you amazed.

Other details that struck us are the handrails of the external stairs which appear to be made of wood, but which are made of concrete but worked so that they appear to be made of wood!

🎫 The cost of the ticket is 10 EUR per person, guide is included. Book here!

  • Rocchetta Mattei was used at the time of the Second World War by the SS which led to the disfigurement of some rooms or courtyards and various vandalizations.

  • It was then questionably transformed by the so-called "Mercantone" Primo Stefanelli into an amusement park, creating a fake razor bridge and fake medieval-style prisons. At its entrance, we still find the sign, the cost of the ticket, and the ticket office, truly incredible.

  • It was later abandoned, in some places, writings from many years ago were found on the walls and local people used the fortress for private parties or to steal furniture and upholstery which they are still searching for in the surrounding homes today.


Rocchetta Mattei stands in Grizzana Morandi, on a hill called Valle della Limentra, a fascinating territory full of medieval villages among which we find Monstovolo, La Scola, Poggio Mezzano, and Poggio di Veggio. During the journey, we stopped at the Labante caves, free to access, and small but truly suggestive (Maps).

To eat we strongly recommend the Agriturismo La Rocchetta (Maps).

Villino Romito or Fornace

In addition, there are several villagers in the surroundings (for sale) that were the houses where the characters who used Mattei's medicines stayed. A cottage we visited is the Romito cottage in Riola Ponte (just 5 minutes by car).

Also called Villino Fornace, Mattei had the oven for the production of the bricks used for the construction of the Rocchetta, today it is on sale and in a serious state of abandonment. However, a visit that is not official deserves. The entrance network is torn and you can easily enter (at your own risk).

From the garden you can admire the timeless beauty of this liberty villa, you have access to a closet and a workshop with objects attached to the walls. From the windows, you can see the dining room with the table, chairs, armchairs, and glasses and bottles still on the table.

All the doors of the villa are open, so it is very easy to explore the various environments. Even if the villa seems to be fredness. There is still furniture, some very well kept, some clothes, some objects, a few bottles of liqueur now empty, and little else. On the floor above there are the bedrooms with blankets and cushions, leather shoes on board the bed, and many various objects!

On the back, we find the pitchfork that is the symbol of this villa, the famous fork or crown facade. Behind them, we discover a swimming pool with a small loggia now invaded by the leaves, with a lamppost collapsed and with still visible beds and chairs.

There is always a magical atmosphere when you are in an abandoned place and this villa attracts us from every point of view. There is the impression that the inhabitants escaped from something that frightened them to death, having to leave glasses, shoes, tablecloths, and bottles that are still in place today.

Have a nice journey!



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