Palazzo di Re Enzo, Bologna
One building around Piazza Maggiore, more precisely north of Palazzo del Podestà and the street Via Rizzoli, is quite interesting: Palazzo di Re Enzo. Enzo of Sardinia, illegitimate son of Holy Roman Emperor Frederic II, once king of Sardinia, was imprisoned here after his troops lost the Battle of Fossalta. This battle was one of the principal ones between the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Ok, so much for the blank history. What I found interesting are the merlons on top of the palazzo. These are of ghibelline type, characrerised by the swallow-tail form. I thought, ok, so Bologna must have been ghibelline, or supporting the Holy Roman Emperors and not the pope. But ... not so. Only when I came back I read that Bologna was indeed belonging to the Guelph fraction, hence supporting the pope. But then the merlons seem to make sense for me: Enzo was supporting his father in the battle which was between the two factions, hence supported the ghibellines, and, after he was defeated, brought here into a palazzo which was barely finished when the battle was over. So I think that this is the reason why the palace has these merlons which don’t characterise Bologna’s supporting fraction.
I could be wrong though – any suggestions and information is welcome.
More about the palazzo on Bologna’s website:
Palazzo Re Enzo
Location of Palazzo Re Enzo on Bing Maps.
© Ingrid D., October 2014 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)
Since Palazzo dei Podesta turned out to be far too small to hold the great number of politicians ot the time, the building was enlarged in 1245 and called Palatium Novum. Torre Lamberti, incorporated in the corner of the palace, was purchased in 1294 by the city government of Bologna, in order to enlarge the reidence, formed by Palatium Vetus, the complex before the Podesta and Palatium Novum, the so-called Re Enzo. The Palace was later called King Vincent (Re Enzo) Palace, as Vincent, King of Sardinia, had been held prisoner in the Palace for twenty-three years.
King Vincent, actually Re Enzo in Italian version, was a stepson of the Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors. Frederick II was the crowned King of Sicily and it was his full names. Re Enzo, the King of Sardinia, was the imperial vicar in Northen Italy, and resided in Cremona. Re Enzo was the leader of Ghibellines army against the Bolognese Guelphs in the battle of Fossalta in 1249. This battle was just an episode of the many wars between Guelphs and Ghibellines with no importance at all. The Ghibellines army was defeated at Fossalta while Re Enzo was captured and brought to Bologna. He was imprisoned in Palatium Novum, which after that historical episode changed name into Palazzo Re Enzo.
Re Enzo was allegedly left free within the palace by day, allowed to meet visitors but also some women too. During night, however, he was kept into a cage hanging from the ceilling. In his will Re Enzo mentioned three daughters but a local legend talks about a son he had from a paesant Lucia di Viadogala. According to that legend, whenever his son was passing by, Enzo was calling him up from the window "amore mio, ben ti voglio", meaning "my love I love you so much". The locals called his son Bentivoglio and he would be the ancestor of the Bentivoglio family, later rulers of Bologna.
Palazzo Re Enzo is a palace in Bologna, northern Italy. It takes its name from Re Enzio of Sardinia, Frederick II's son and King of Sardinia, who was prisoner here from 1249 until his death in 1272 after being captured who was captured by Bologna in the battle of Fossalta. The palace where he was held in prison, was once named Palazzo Nuovo (new palace), but never lost its nickname given after his famous prisoner.
The palace was built in 1245 as an extension of the nearby Palazzo del Podestà, which had proven insufficient for the exigences of the Commune of Bologna.
Today the inside its thick walls has found a home of 2500 square metres of conference facilities and is also used extensively for exhibitions and shows.
The Palazzo di Re Enzo is an imposing and impressive building on the north-east corner of the Piazza Nettuno. It does not contain museums or anything else that would warrant entrance, but its battlements do catch the visitor's attention, as does the incredible ice crem shop on the main floor (definitely not to miss!). The Palazzo was constructed in 1246 and is named after King Enzo of Sardinia, who was imprisoned here between 1249 (after his capture at Fossalta) until his death in 1272. Re Enzo was the illegitimate child of Emperor Frederick II. The building was restored between 1905 and 1913 (which is why it seems to be in such good repair).
The palace, destined in the beginning to house the Town's Council, dates from 1244. In this building King Enzo, son of Frederick II, was kept for 23 year's until his death (1272) after having been defeated and taken prisoner by the Bolognese at the battle of Fossalta (1249). In the ground floor of the palace, once covered by cross-vaults, war engines were kept while the big halls of the mezzanine and of the first floor were used for popular gatherings.
The palace of King Enzo takes the name from the son of Federico II, who remained locked up from 1249, when he was captured during the battle of Fossalta, to 1272, year of its death.
It was constructed in 1244-6 like widening of the communal buildings to recover in the ground floor some of the war machines of Bologna army.
The original structure was arranged on three floors with external walls in bricks and subdivisions in wood.
The todays style is fruit of a careful work of integration of the various styles that characterize it, completed in 1913.
To notice the statues of the four saints protectors of the city.