Only one in four castles giving name to the Municipality of Quattro Castella (“Four Castles”) is still intact: Bianello Castle, purchased by Matilda’s mother in 1044 to become the home of the Great Countess and of their heirs – safe for brief interruptions – until 1742.
Here Matilda of Canossa played the role of the mediator between Gregory VII and the Emperor Henry IV, settling down the terms for the future, famous “pardon of Canossa”, here she opened her doors to the son of her historic enemy, Henry V, who crowned her Vice Queen of Italy in 1111.
With the passing of time, the stronghold was transformed in a refined residence, with prestigious paintings and rich rooms, but some features of the original appearance of the castle are still visible in the basement.
Bianello’s last owners, the counts Cantelli Cremonini sold the estate to the Municipality of Quattro Castella and today it hosts in its ancient watchtower a Brotherhood of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar’s factory; thus, the ancient tradition of vinegar making in Da Canossa’s estates is still alive.
The most important historic parade, a great medieval festival ending with the crowning of Matilda as Vice Queen of Italy, takes places yearly at the foot of the Castle.