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Official Tourist Information Site of Imola's Area

Rocca Sforzesca - Sforza's Castle

Rocca Sforzesca - aerial photo
Rocca Sforzesca - aerial photo

Its origins date back to 1261 and it is a beautiful example of fortified architecture between Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Its primitive plan consisted of nine quadrangular towers, only the tenth tower, the keep, stands still in the centre of the internal courtyard.

The Roman Church, the noble families of Alidosi, then Visconti after Manfredi ruled the city and the fortress. However, it was at the end of the Fifteenth century that the Sforza started the complete renaissance transformation of the building that was taken up by Girolamo Riario, the new lord of Imola.


He was the nephew of Pope Sixtus IV and married Caterina Sforza. He encased the corner towers inside thicker walled circular structures able to withstand bombardment and started the construction of a noble living quarters inside the fortress, the Palazzetto in the Cortile del Soccorso. The death of Pope Sixtus IV marked the beginning of a period of crisis for the Riario Sforza reign and the siege of 1499 effected by Cesare Borgia (known as Valentino) marked it send and accelerated the return of direct papal domination.

Leonardo da Vinci was a consultant of Valentino for the Romagna fortresses: testimony to that visit is provided by the plan of Imola drawn by Leonardo in 1502,which clearly shows the Rocca. With the definitive annexation of Imola to the Papal State the fortress became a prison until 1958, when restoration work began and finally this fine fortress became a museum.


Consisting of some six hundred pieces, the Collection of weapons is only in minimum part linked to the history of the edifice. Of the weapons that were originally part of the fortress armoury there remains only a collection of stone shot (some of these are on show in the ticket office), and relicts of arms and armour found during excavations and displayed in the keep.

The bulk of the weapons comes from the purchase of a private collection back in the 1960’s,shortly before the Rocca was opened to the public as a museum. The pole arms, mounted on racks along the walls just as they were in the armouries of yesteryear, includes, pikes, halberds, corèsques and sword-sticks.


The cellar houses artilleries, otherwise the grand hall the armour collection, note particularly the Lombard-made armour dating back to the second half of 16 th century.

The Captain’s apartment displays the bulk of the collection. There are steel weapons(swords, broadswords, rapiers, dresswords, sabres, palosci, anddaggers), crossbows, oriental weapons and finally long and short firearm, note the two pistols signed by Cassiano Zanotti and dated1804.The ceramic pieces, found inside the Rocca during restoration work from the 1960s onwards, amount to a valuable legacy that provides tangible evidence of life inside the fortress. The earthenware bares heraldic decorations and marks which denote various uses; traces that indicate the habits, preferences and social conditions of those who lived in the Rocca from the 14th century through to the 19th century.


The best way to view the collection is along a route that highlights the different places in which the pieces were found, especially the keep with its two wells, one for drawing water and the other for tipping garbage, and its secret rooms.

This route also connects the materials to the history of the building that has preserved them for so long.

In the south-west tower it is displayed a “dinner service” of eighteen plates made of “archaic graffito” ceramic probably commissioned for a particular event in the life of the15th century inhabitants of the fortress. In the keep the jug decorated with the eagle, Alidosi coat of arms, stands out among the archaic majolica jugs found in its internal well.


Address: Piazzale Giovanni dalle Bande Nere - 40026 Imola (BO)


For more info about opening hour and tickets visit the website.

Access for disabled people

Accessible for the disabled only on reservation.

tel.: +39 0542 602209 -

How to get there

How to get to Imola


It's located in the historical centre.
From the tollgate follow the directions to the town centre and Museums-Rocca Sforzesca.
From the train station go straight along until the clock tower; then continue into via Mazzini and take the second right street Via Garibaldi and follow this road until you'll see the Fortress on the left.

Info on the tourist location

Musei Comunali - via Sacchi, 4 - 40026 Imola (BO)
tel.: +39 0542 602209;  

fax +39 0542 602608 -

Last update: 19-12-2021