The village of Monte Orsello
Monte Orsello is an ancient village situated on a hilltop which overlooks highway 623 between Guiglia and Roccamalatina. The name most likely derives from an infamous bear. From the village’s layout, it is still possible to discern an ancient defensive structure surrounding the castle, the remains of which are sadly very few. Amongst the remains, it is possible to see a passage vault of ashlar sandstone and a 14th century tower. The charming alleyways of the village are still intact and there are splendid panoramic views over the surrounding valleys.
In 1308, the castle was bequeathed to the Bolognesi in accordance with the last will and testament of the Marquis Azzo d’Este. However, as soon as the end of the same century, it fell back into the control of the Estensi. After coming under control of the Contrari (15th Century) for some time during the feudal period and also the Boncompagni, it fell under the rule of the Marquisate of Vignola under the jurisdiction of Savignano until the end of the 18th Century.
Downstream from the tower, where the two roads which lead to the higher part of the village branch off, you can find the 17th Century Oratorio di San Pellegrino, known as the Ospitalino in reference to the hospice which existed there in the second half of the 16th Century. In ancient times, there was a church called Santa Maria, which was dependent on the Parish of Trebbio and which was in very poor condition by the end of the 18th Century.
The current church, called the Assunta with a bell tower from 1271, was rebuilt between 1945 and 1947 after the damage caused by the bombardments. In the apse of the church, there is a precious Madonna with child in terracotta from 1545, carved by Antonio Begarelli of Modena and was miraculously saved from the complete collapse of the building.
Jacopo Cantelli of Monte Orsello
At the crossing with the road that leads to the cemetery, it is possible to see the old Cantelli home, where the illustrious “ducal cosmographer” Jacopo Cantelli was born in 1643. Educated in Bologna, Cantelli was welcomed by important figures such as Cardinal Boncompagni and Count Rinaldo Marescotti. The famous minister to the King of France, Colbert, wanted him to come to the Court of Versailles but Cantelli went instead to Rome where he stayed for 16 years studying history, archaeology and geography with great fervour. Francesco II, Duke of Modena, wanted to make him his geographer and librarian and succeeded in doing so in 1685. Most of his maps featured in the Mercurio Geografico, the famous atlas published in Rome in 1692. Jacopo Cantelli died in Modena in 1695.
Bottazza and Mulino d’Andrea
Not far from Monte Orsello is the well-preserved hamlet of Bottazza, where an exquisite tower can be found. It is said that the hamlet gets its name from a lady who took revenge for her husband’s murder by killing the assassin with a skewer. The closed court is privately owned and not currently accessible. Beside Selva of Monte Orsello, you will find Mulino d'Andrea, an old mill which has fallen into disuse, but which has preserved all of its original characteristics.