Castelvetro city of wine
Castelvetro is located south of Modena at a distance of 18km at 150 meters of altitude above sea level, on gently sloping vineyard hills. In the square called Piazza Roma, at the very centre of the village, lie the town hall, the Towers of the Clock and of the Prisons, and the Rinaldi Palace. This town as it is today was built in recent times, between 1934 and 1935, when all the buildings located in the area north of the Castle were destroyed, except for the Towers, in order to create an open space overlooking the valley. The landscape of vineyards continues up the hills south of Castelvetro, which preserve some architectural treasures of inestimable value in the lands of Grasparossa. These include the important buildings located in the hamlet of Levizzano: the fortified Castle of Levizzano, which first belonged to Bonifacio di Toscana, Matilde di Canossa's father, and then passed into the hands of the Rangoni family from the XIVI' century until the Napoleon era. The Torre Matildica (Matilde's Tower) stands out imperiously from the castle, where several associations have their headquarters: the Association of Expert Tasters of the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, the Association of Italian Wine and Wine-Making Experts (Ass. degli Enologi ed Enoteche Italiane), the Italian Association of Sommeliers, and finally the Association Terre di Castelvetro, founded in 7995 by some local producers sponsored by the municipality. The fortress-castle has a basement where the municipal wine shop Casa dei Lambruschi has its premises since 1879 and is open to the public with the purpose of spreading the knowledge of the typical local products, and particularly Lambrusco Grasparossa.
Itineraries in the Lands of Grasparossa
The premises of the wine shop have sixty seats. Food is also served, with a particular care in preparing modenese dishes, crescentine nelle tigelle, various types of salami and pickles; and home made cakes. The typical products are also offered for sale: traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena, Nocino, wines and a lot more.
Taking northward from Castelvetro (toward Modena), you can reach Maranello, whose fame is presently closely linked to Ferrari. Going back to the main crossroads and continuing along via Giardini northward, you will meet the Ferrari plant, not far from which, on the left, you wil see the motor racing track of Fiorano, where Ferrari racing team tries its cars. Situated at a few meters from Ferrari plant, the Ferrari Gallery is the big museum of the history of the famous red cars of Maranello and their founder.
Starting again from the main crossroads of Maranello and going westward, you will arrive at Spezzano, a hamlet belonging to the municipality of Fiorano Modenese. In Spezzano, take via Nirano on the left and then follow the indications for the Castle of Spezzano.
Fiorano and Sassuolo
The castle is the seat of the Museum of Ceramics, opened with the intention of illustrating the techniques used for the production of ceramic in the course of seven millenniums. You must take the former State's road again (or the Predemontana road) if you want to continue the itinerary heading for Sassuolo, an important town of the Modena district, the world's capital of ceramic. The historic centre of Sassuolo is rich in ancient buildings: Palazzo Ducale is the historic, architectural and artistic jewel of Sassuolo. Francesco I d'Este entrusted architect Bartolomeo Avanzini with the transformation of the place into a summer residence. On the hill of Sassuolo you can also find a spa facility: the Terme della Salvarola: are a renowned spa resort all over the region Emilia Romagna. Its spontaneus spring waters are use for treatments in the spa facilities because they contain sodium chloride, iodides and bromine, as well as sulphur.
Along the Road of Wines and Flavours, Castelnuovo Rangone (named after one of the feuds of the noble family of the Rangoni's) can be considered as the capital of pork meat. Pork is the main driver of the whole economy of the area, so much so that in the town centre, precisely in the main square before the imposing Torrione (ancient medieval tower that around the year 1000 was part of a fortress-castle defended by up to ten-meter high walls), there is a monument to the pig. Every year, two Sundays before Christmas, Castelnuovo is the theatre of the "Sagra dello zampone", a village festival where a huge zamponiera (a special container to cook pig trotters) is prepared in the square by Superzampone and this special recipe is cooked for the whole community. Following signs along roads immersed in the countryside and dotted with old villas and farm houses, you will reach Formigine. The Castle, accessible from the square called piazza Calcagnini, once piazza del Mercato, is the major historic-architectural attraction of the village.
From Castevetro, take the road to Vignola, a small town on the "Road of wines and flavour", whose name (from Vineola, small vineyard) evokes an ancient tie with vine growing. The municipality of Vignola is the reference point for a vast area that includes about thirty other municipalities scattered between province of Modena and Bologna, all with the vocation of fruit-farming. In addition to cherries, they olso boast a consolidated typicality for plums, apples, pears, apricot and peaches. The Castle, one of the most interesting samples of fortified architecture in the region, was originally built for defence purposes, but during the rule of Contrari it was transformed in a somptuous dwelling full of decorations and frescoes, on the model of the Este's family dwellings in Ferrara. Piazza Garibaldi is also the place where you will find the old confectioner's ship Gollini, where the renowned Torta Barozzi has been produced for over a century, a typical refined local delicacy whose recipe is still unknown and jealously kept secret in the pastry making rooms of the Gollini family.
Marano and Spilamberto
Marano is also part of the itinerary of the "Road of wines and flavours". The municipality of Marano sul Panaro, an elegant hinge between the Modena plain and mountains, has also become a privileged meeting point where you can taste many local food products made with wheat flour, the so-called "poor products" prepared after the old genuine local food tradition; the crescentine nelle tigelle, the borlenghi and the gnocco fritto.
When you reach Spilamberto from Castelvetro (both included in the "Road of wines and flavours"), at the entrance of the village you will immediately see the imposing outline of the Torrione. It is a construction dating back to the first years of the fourteenth century, built by the old Commune of Modena to further fortify the entrance to the village near the walls. It was provided with a drawbridge to defend the Castle.
But Spilamberto is not known only for Balsamic Vinegar. Many other food products are typically produced here: the walnut liqueur called nocino and the famous amaretti. In fact, Spilamberto is also the seat of the Ordine del Nocino Modenese, an association for the protection of the quality of this traditional home-made liqueur of Modena. The association is entirely composed by women. The nocino is a tonic liqueur, wellknown and produced in many Italian regions today, but the real nocino is the one that is made after a traditional recipe selected among the many "imitations" with the addition of aromas, which is kept here by this association. The walnuts used for its production are rigorously harvested in the magic night of June 24, the night of S. Giovanni, under the dew (locally called "guazza") that, according to old beliefs, causes the hair to become curly and all the girls to fall in love.
The village centre is split in two by the via Emilia, the main road called Viale Martin in the Castelfranco tract. For years suspended between Modena and Bologna, Castelfranco is considered to be the most "bolognese" of the municipalities of the Modena district, also because in 1919, when it was ruled by the Province of Bologna, it was annexed to the territory of the Province of Modena. In spite of this double soul, every body agree about indicating Castelfranco as the homeland of the tortellino. According to the legend reported by Alessandro Tassoni in his mock-heroic poem "La Secchia Rapita", this typical food dish seems to have been created at the Dogana Inn whose voyeur innkeeper peeped through a keyhole and saw the navel of a splendid mistress (Venus in person, as some say) and was inspired by this view to create the shape of the Tortellino. In order to celebrate this event, every year the Committee for the Feast of San Nicola organises the traditional Festa di San Nicola - Sagra del Tortellino on the second week of September. Celebrations last for a whole week, during which visitors can taste the Traditional Tortellino of Castelfranco Emilia, produced using home-made techniques, that is, by stretching the sheets of pastry with the mattarello (rolling pin) rigorously cooked and served in a broth. Among the many activities organised, we may mention the traditional ritual of the birth of the tortellino with VIPs interpreting the innkeeper and the mistress to stage the picturesque legend.