"Canossa, the castle behind the saying :-)" Top 5 Page for this destination Italy Things to Do Tip by Trekki

Italy Things to Do: 1,469 reviews and 2,252 photos

  Canossa Castle ruins
by Trekki
  • Canossa Castle ruins - Italy
      Canossa Castle ruins
    by Trekki
  • Canossa Castle and ... some Renaissance girl :) - Italy
      Canossa Castle and ... some Renaissance girl :)
    by Trekki
  • Inside the museum, a model of the church - Italy
      Inside the museum, a model of the church
    by Trekki
  • Mathilda's dress - Italy
      Mathilda's dress
    by Trekki
  • The countryside around Canossa - Italy
      The countryside around Canossa
    by Trekki

In the cold and snowy days of a January day in 1077, so say history experts, a famous incident happened here on Canossa Castle: Salian Emperor Henry IV stood in front of the entrance portals for three days, barefoot and full of penitence. It was to have a preliminary end to the fierce dispute (investiture controversy) between pope and emperor who would be the “higher ranked” and thus have the right to declare bishops and popes. (of course the whole story is much more complicated but I leave that to the respective websites). When Henry IV walked all the way down to Canossa, he came from Speyer, where the Salians had their seat. Speyer is located close to where I grew up and that’s why I always wanted to see what was left of that famous Canossa Castle. Add to this the history classes at school and the famous saying “to walk to Canossa” when something painful has to be done and penance is being asked for, then you have the reasons why I was pleased to see how close Canossa is located to a friend’s house. Most naturally we went there when I stopped by in May 2010 and I was impressed! Not much is left of the castle itself, although it must have been impressive given the reconstruction sketch. It belonged to Matilda of Toscana, also during the famous year of 1077. She was a close friend of pope Gregorio VII and cousin to Henry IV and a very strong woman of her time. A little museum (Museo Nazionale di Canossa) on top of the castle hill explains a lot about her life and of course about the famous day in January many many moons ago.

Opening hours of the museum:
Daily 11:00 – 18:30 (and closed during noon time: 13:00-13:30).
I am sure there must be a small entrance fee, but we were invited.

Oh my god... the castle is located south of Parma and Reggio nell’Emilia (almost forms a triangle with these). From Parma, drive to San Polo d’Enza and further south to Ciano d’Enza and look for the signs “Castello di Canossa”. It is a tiny road and leads up to the castle.

Region: Emilia Romagna;
nearest airport: Bologna

Location of Canossa on Google Maps.

© Ingrid D., March 2011 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)

Website: http://www.castellodicanossa.it/

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Was this review helpful?

  • Updated Nov 20, 2015
  • Send to a Friend
  • Add to your Trip Planner
  • Report Abuse

Comments (2)

  • TooTallFinn24's Profile Photo
    Nov 20, 2015 at 4:33 PM

    Love how your tips contain just a little history and a lot of useful information. This sounds like a hidden gem in beautiful Italy.

  • Regina1965's Profile Photo
    Jul 1, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    Love your costume :)

    • Trekki's Profile Photo
      Jul 1, 2013 at 11:30 PM

      :-)) This was the "old" one, the one that was not exactly Gubbio style.

Trekki Visits Here Frequently!


“Don't spend your life playing the role that others have chosen for you ;-)”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 0 2 8
Forum Rank:
0 0 0 4 0

Have you been to Italy?

  Share Your Travels