FORLÌ, CITY OF ART

This town in the Romagna region has been enriched in the past with numerous symbolic and bombastic attributions, which created heavy building “improvement” work, which radically changed certain historic districts.

History

The town’s foundation dates back to Roman times, with the construction of the Via Emilia and parcelling the land out to the peasants in the new colonies. The small town was a quiet farming centre for centuries, but its history was then marked by the invasions by the Visigoths, the Longobard domain and attachment to the papal lands. A free commune in the 11th century, Forlì then made the Ghibelline choice to support the Emperor, going against the nearby Guelph towns of Faenza and Bologna. The bonds with the Roman church underwent numerous events and contention with other powers, but remained the distinctive mark of the town until 1815, when it returned under the church’s domain and important restoration work began, with the religious orders being reinstated, the convents reopened and the foundations of the Cathedral were rebuilt. All this while the Austrian troupes kept military order in the town. In 1889 the town council passed into the hands of the Republicans who governed there until the time of the fascist period.

The city and its monuments

The most excellent symbols of Forlì are the Fort, the Romanic church of St. Mercuriale and Piazza Saffi, built as a tribute to Aurelio Saffi, poet, writer and politician in the 19th century. The Fort dates back to 1472 and is in a good state of conservation: it is distinguished by the central square keep with the openings for the drawbridges and four round turrets at the corners. Around 1481, the new lord of the town, Girolamo Riario, had the citadel built. Both these buildings are characterised by the circular turrets at the corners but the citadel has lost all its historic and architectural interest, due to being converted into a prison. San Mercuriale is in Romanic-Longobard style and is the most significant monument in Forlì, together with the bell tower and the valuable works of art it conserves inside.

The geographical area

There are several tourist itineraries to discover the lovely towns throughout the province. Predappio is remembered mainly as the birthplace of Benito Mussolini, whose tomb is in the nearby cemetery of San Cassiano. Forlimpopoli is famous for the fort, where the town theatre has been installed. It was built after the town had been completely destroyed, and after very precise restoration work it now also houses the council offices. The Church of St. Ruffillo should also be visited, once again rebuilt after the destruction. Terra del Sole is the result of the wish of the Grand Duke Cosimo Medici, who wanted a fort to defend the extreme Tuscany end of the Romagna region. It is a fortress town to all effects, with two castles at the entrance gates. Castrocaro is the most important spa centre in the region with water rich in bromine and iodine for a relaxing holiday looking after yourself. There are also the various forts spread around the countryside, which were built to defend the towns and are worth visiting to discover the secrets hidden behind their impressive walls.