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Novellara is located in the heart of the Reggio Emilia Lowlands, not too far from the Po River.


Altitude: 24 m
Inhabitants: 13,744 (updated to December 31, 2018)
Postal code: 42017
Weekly market day: Thursday
Patron Saint: San Cassiano (May 4)


Phone 0039 0522 655454 - Municipality
sito web Comune di Novellara (Novellara Municipality)

How to get there


By car
From the Reggio Emilia exit on the A1 motorway: take National Road SS12 travelling north.

Travelling on National Road SS9, when you reach Reggio Emilia take National Road SS12, which leads from the northern ring road to the A1 motorway and on to Bagnolo in Piano and Novellara.

Coming from Mantua on the A22 motorway, which runs between Modena and Brennero, exit at Reggiolo-Rolo.

From the town of Reggiolo, which is only a few kilometres away, take National Road SS12 travelling south.
It is also possible to take the National Road SS63 from Mantua to Guastalla, and turn left at Guastalla to travel southeast, arriving directly in Novellara.

By train
From the Reggio Emilia Railway Station: route Reggio Emilia-Guastalla.

By bus
From Reggio Emilia, Piazzale Europa: bus No. 43.


Novellara is 20 km from Reggio Emilia, the administrative centre of the province.

Historical notes

It is likely that the early name of this town before it became Novellara was "Nubilaria" or "Nuvelaria", in reference to the fog and clouds that frequently waft into the area from the wetlands.

In 1100, a Lombardic noble by the name of Gherardaccio Malapresa turned the village into a fortified town by building a strong watchtower on the highest spot to defend the area.

About 200 years later, Feltrino Gonzaga of the famous Gonzaga family of Mantua became lord of Reggio Emilia.
Threatened by the military might of Marquis Nicolò d'Este, the Manfredi family, and Count Lucio of Lando, Feltrino was forced to sell Reggio Emilia to Bernabò Visconti, keeping Bagnolo and Novellara for his own family.
Thus a minuscule fief was created which, when raised to the status of county, was wisely governed by the Gonzaga family until 1728, the year of the death of the last Count of Gonzaga, Filippo Alfonso.
The early part of the Gonzaga Lordship was not a quiet time, since bitter hatred separated the Gonzagas of Novellara from their cousins in Mantua.
In order to create a strong shelter against their enemies, the Gonzagas began construction on the Novellara Fortress under the direction of Guido.

He also ordered plans drawn up for the construction of a new village, to be built to the west of the fortress along straight lines and including the fascinating porticoes that now characterize Novellara.
Land reclamation projects were started, and gradually contributed to the elimination of diseases caused by stagnant, infested waters.
New roads, fine churches, and sumptuous little country villas were built, and a standard of living that attracted new inhabitants was created.
People were also attracted to the town by what could be considered a good, wise government for the times.
After the death of the last member of the Gonzaga family of Novellara, Filippo Alfonso, the fief was confiscated and later given to the Duke of Modena by the emperor.

Today Novellara preserves many memories of its past. Unfortunately, many buildings, convents, and churches have been damaged, but in spite of this, it is not difficult to find signs of the town's past dignity in the old streets with their low, silent porticoes.

Reasons to visit

Novellara has been most ancient Gonzaga lordship and in its town centre maintains the XVI-century urban layout of which the painter, Lelio Orsi, who was born here, was also a protagonist; Piazza Unità d’Italia with Renaissance porticoes around the perimeter, is the beating heart of the town. There is also the Collegiate Church of Santo Stefano, inside of which are important paintings and decorations, and the Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine della Fossetta and the Franco Tagliavini Municipal Theatre.

Novellara has been most ancient Gonzaga lordship and in its town centre maintains the XVI-century urban layout of which the painter, Lelio Orsi, who was born here, was also a protagonist.
Piazza Unità d’Italia with Renaissance porticoes around the perimeter, is the beating heart of the town.
The Santo Stefano Collegiate Church is a valuable work of architecture by Lelio Orsi; the Fortress still maintains medieval and Renaissance structures in its walls.
A collection of pharmaceutical ceramic jars of rare beauty is left from the old Jesuit pharmacy. The Gonzaga family archives are of exceptional interest, and the
Gonzaga Museum will become an absolute must for visitors of the interior of the fortress.
And again the Beata Vergine della Fossetta Sanctuary and the Franco Tagliavini Municipal Theatre.

Not to be missed

The Fortress is Novellara’s most important monument. The imposing construction, built at the end of the XIV century for defensive purposes, was transformed during the XVI century into a noble residence.
The rooms were embellished with decorations and the Gonzagas adorned them with valuable works of art.
The Fortress is now the seat of the municipal administration and cultural services: the Gonzaga Museum, the Theatre, the Library and Historical Archives.
Inside are the Sala del Fico (Fico Hall), decorated with grotesques dating back to the mid-XVI-century, and the Council Hall, painted in a scenographic style in the XIX century.

The Civic Hall inside the Fortress hosts a permanent collection of paintings by Augusto Daolio, the dear departed leader of the music band "I Nomadi".

The Gonzaga Museum

The Gonzaga Museum occupies several rooms of the XVI-century apartment of the Gonzaga Counts, on the noble floor of the Gonzaga Fortress, designed, built and decorated under the direction of Lelio Orsi.
Several rooms that host collections have coffered ceilings, are decorated with friezes and have XVI-century fireplaces in Verona marble.
Finally, there is the room with the valuable collection of XVI-century pharmacy vases, from the Novellara-based Convent of the Jesuits, one of the most valuable important Italian collections.


NomadIncontro - Third weekend of February
Meeting dedicated to fans of "Nomadi", band from Novellara, with two concert performances.

San Cassiano Festival - First weekend of May
Arts and crafts, antiques market, exhibitions, food and wine, funfair.

Miss Anguria Blues - Last weekend of July
Concert of blues and roots music, street artists and musicians, gastronomic stands, melon stalls, games, market stalls, traditional crafts, contest of sugar content and flavour, heaviest water melon contest, parade of floats of gigantic water melons.

Balsamic Novellara - First Sunday of October
Market show of local products, good food and antiques; crushing and cooking of the must.

What to eat

Reggio Emilia Watermelon Igp (Protected Geographic Indication)
Sweet and refreshing Novellara water melon is the main summer fruit in the Reggio Emilia Lowlands and has obtained the Protected Geographical Indication mark for its unique qualities.

Reggio Emilia Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
In the attic of the Fortress is the municipal vinegar cellar, where the prestigious Balsamic vinegar of Reggio Emilia matures; inside are two sets of the precious barrels branded with the coat of arms of the town of Novellara.

Keeping fit

Novellara Valleys
Outside the inhabited town, on the border between the areas of Reggiolo and Guastalla, are the so-called Valleys, large areas of ecological rebalancing and protection of biodiversity, obtained from the marshy territories of the Emilia plain. Spring is the time to see the rare “meadow violet” along the banks of ditches and canals where the "pavera" also grows, a marsh grass which, woven by the skilful hands of local craftsmen, was used for making chairs, baskets and bags.

Opened in 2017, the CAI 608 path starts from Ponte del Pastore and continues for 10 kilometres for a walk of around two and a half hours. The route is not particularly difficult and is suitable for everyone.

In the vicinity

The country residences of the Gonzaga family for the court nobility were located outside the inhabited towns, in the direction of Guastalla and Bagnolo in Piano: they are the Casini di Sopra e di Sotto.

Useful links