The village of Brisighella has ancient origins. In fact, archaeological excavations conducted in nearby Tanaccia cave confirm the presence of human remains dating as far back as the Stone Age. At one point in its history, the village was part of the “galligus ager” before surrendering to the Romans.
Initially, it was a fortified boundary wall built for defensive purposes towards the end of the 15th century by Maghinardo Pagano on the very rocky spur where the clock tower now stands. Other historical sites include the Rocca, which has all the typical features of a 15th-16th century fortress and was once the noble residence of a wealthy feudal lord.
According to legend, an extremely deep well was dug somewhere inside this fortress and blades were added that were so sharp they earned it the name of “razor-well”. Prisoners were often thrown into this dark hole but it also seems that so were dozens of young men from the village. They were the hapless victims of the amorous yearnings of the cruel Caterina Sforza who, after having called them to the fortress for a passionate night of romance, would get rid of them by having them thrown down the well.
The collegiate church of Saints Michele and Giovanni Battista stands on central Piazza Carducci. The layout of the church is in the form of a Greek cross with a cupola at the centre of the four arms. On the left altar there is a remarkable, 15th-century painting of the “Madonna delle Grazie” that is probably by Mingarelli whereas on the adjacent altar there is an altar-piece depicting the Last Supper, which is of the Caravaggio school. Dell’Osservanza Church (16th century) on Via Baccarini, houses some excellent ceramics and a “Pietà” by Rosetti in its left colonnade.
Inside the neo-classical town hall building, the Council Chamber has a beautiful fireplace dating from the 15th-century, topped with the Manfredi family coat of arms and a Robbiano-style, majolica medallion with a festoon of fruit. The building houses the Municipal Museum of the Lamone Valley, which contains exhibits found in the valley, including several Neolithic and Roman remains.
Via degli Asini is perhaps the most charming part of the village. It is the oldest street in the village and was designed in the 15th century to run higher than the road surface. In fact, it is thought to be the first superelevated street in history. Featuring half arches of differing widths, each of the portico arches was entrusted to the family who lived in the house above it. Over the years, the portico slowly lost its defensive role and was instead used as a thoroughfare for caravans of ass and donkeys on their way from the chalk caves to the furnaces and the markets of Florence and Faenza.
Village fêtes, traditional celebrations and cultural events.
Throughout the year, numerous events are held here. Many of them are inspired by popular tradition and are linked primarily to local specialities. These include festivals celebrating forgotten fruits, held in Casola in October, the Volpina pear and the delights of pork, as well as those in honour of truffles, in Brisighella (in November), and local shallots, in Riolo Terme (in July).
Hundreds of other local events praise the delights of wild boar, polenta, sage, olives and sheep and goat produce. During the summer, there are also numerous cultural events as well as those linked to the area’s historical past. Of these, the Medieval Festivals held in Brisighella at the end of June/beginning of July are particularly popular.
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