Founded in 940 by Atto Adalberto (Countess Matilde’s great-grandfather), it was the hub of Da Canossa family’s military and political power, center of many important exploits in European history.
Indeed, just at Canossa Castle’s gate on 28 January 1077, the Emperor Henry IV was left kneeling in a blizzard for three days and three nights, waiting for the Pope’s forgiveness.
This episode is universally famous, and “going to Canossa” still today refers to an act of submission, meaning “to eat humble pie”.
On the other hand, Canossa was a strategic stronghold, and was attacked many times: it was first destroyed by the Commune of Reggio then by the cannons of Ottavio Farnese.
Today, only few ruins are left in testimony of its past greatness, but the place appears secluded and beautiful, and a museum has been established gathering important findings such as a sandstone baptismal font of the 12th century.
Other interesting things to see in the area of Canossa: the beautiful Rossena Castle, the House of Tibet, a Tibetan culture center in the village of Votigno, the first established in Europe, and the parish church of S.Martino, of Romanesque origins but now with features of a 17th-18th church, hosting Agar and Ishmael in the Desert attribuited to Guido Reni.