Today we can really see only a few parts of the old castle, because it has suffered during the years much deterioration and decadence but the history and the importance of Canossa castle is immortal.
In Ciano d’Enza every year the first Sunday of September celebrates the memory of the Emperor humiliation at Canossa castle. In fact the story tells us that in this place in 1077 Enry the Emperor stayed for three nights and three days, wearing only a poor dress and without any shoes, asking the pope’s forgiveness after the excommunication. The pope Gregory VII was hosted Canossa Castle because Matilde was a devoted woman.
It was the period of the Investiture Conflict when the popes and the emperors contended for the Episcopal Investiture to decide on who was going to become a bishop.
Really the area was inhabited from the prehistory, but the fortress was built during the IX century mainly to defend the area from the Hungarians invasions taking part in the defensive system of the Apennines. Furthermore it was a way of communication between the Crostolo and the Enza river connecting Emilia Romagna to the Tuscany.
What remains today is the church’s apse of Sant Apollonio; only the historical documents can explain the magnificece and the beauty of the castle, in particularly this church is considered one of the first example of romanesque art in Italy.
Some parts of the church are preserved at the castle’s museum; the best part of the collection is the big romanesque baptismal font: the handwork is extract from a sandstone block and is enriched by typical medieval decoration and symbolic images.
Starting your journey in foot and leaving the car park you follow an easy foot path rising in bends onto you reach the western side of the canossian cliff. On sunny days is possible to see a vast view which capture all of the surrounding countryside: towards the north you can observe the tops tops of the snowy Alps and towards you have softer profile of the Apennines and looking towards another important tower called Rossena is visible.