Wednesday, 29 February 2012 17:22

The Parish Church of Santa Maria di Castello at Toano

Written by  matta
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The Parish Church of Santa Maria di Castello sits in an isolated location at the top of a hill that looms over Toano, a small walled town in the beautiful countryside of the Apennine foothills. The church is counted among the most significant of the Romanesque architecture in Reggio Emilia, and among the oldest churches. The first official act that documents its existence is a diploma of October 14, 980 of the emperor Otto II, which cites the plebem di Toano as one of the most important rural parishes of the period. In the 11th century, the church was located within the circle of walls of the castle, constructed by Boniface of Canossa, of which no trace remains after the destruction from the 13th-century conflicts between the Guelphs of Modena and the Ghibellines of Reggio-Emilia. The church was heavily restored during the reign of the Countess Matilda of Canossa, and so the building we see today is the product of the 12-13th centuries. The church was damaged in 1944, including the complete destruction of the roof, the furniture and liturgical fixtures, leaving traces still visible today on the apse walls and on two large sculpted capitals. The post-war reconstruction attempted to be faithful to the original, even if the sides and the apses betray a prevalently restored surface.

At first glance, the simplicity of the architectonic lines confer to the monument a typically Lombard-Romanesque beauty and solemnity. The structure is particularly stout, with a gabled façade, with rather steep slopes, low walls and a rectangular window. The portal preserves traces of the old sculptural decoration, erased with time and war damage. The exterior walls reveal the building’s long history in the alternation of ashlar blocks with rough rubble construction. The interior displays the same stocky dimensions as the exterior, in all of the rustic beauty of the oldest Romanesque buildings. The three-aisled church is divided into two bays, and covered with a wood-trussed roof. The nave and aisles each terminate in an apse, the central of which is deeper than the later ones. The choir is covered with a barrel vault.


Additional Info

  • Address: Monte Castello, Toano
  • Province:
  • Phone: +39 0522 805110
  • Opening Days and Time:

    Tutte le domeniche dalle 10,00 alle 19,00. Da maggio a settembre è aperta tutti i giorni e, su prenotazione telefonica, può essere visitata in qualsiasi altro periodo dell'anno.

  • Guided Tour: Per visite guidate contattare l'associazione Rabisch (Tel: +39 338 6357868 - Si offrono visite per gruppi di studenti, adulti e disabili. Guide disponibili in lingue straniere.
  • Recommended Restaurants:
Last modified on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 18:03