San Cassiano

Saint Cassiano

At the beginning of the V century the presumable grave of the Christian martyr was already worshipped in an area which today is known as the Villa Clelia archaeological site. The events regarding the saint’s life are not sure, but tradition has it that he was made a martyr during the last persecutions of the Christians in 303 A.D.


Legend has it that he was executed by his own disciples to whom he taught “ars notaria” – the art of writing.
Saint Cassiano is the patron saint of Imola and is celebrated on the 13th August.

San Pier Crisologo

Saint Pier Grisologo

It is thought that he was born in Imola around 380 AD. He was the 18th Bishop of Ravenna. Famous for his eloquent speeches transmitted down in his book of sermons, his meaningful words of faith made him worthy in the VIII century of the title “Crisologo” (word of gold), bestowed on to him by the local historian Agnello.


His sermons are a precious source of information on the origins of the church of Ravenna and about the antique arrangements of the interpretation of the evangelistic passages. Tradition has it that the saint was buried in Imola, near the tomb of the martyr Cassiano.

Lamberto da Fiagnano

Pope Onorio II
As his name says, Lamberto was born in Fiagnano, in the area of Valsellustra, in the second half of the XI century.


After his first literary studies in Imola, he went to Pisa to complete his clerical doctrine and because of his fine abilities he was soon at the service of the Pope’s court. He was nominated Bishop of Ostia, during the delicate fases of the nominations and the Worms Concordat in 1122.


During his reign (1124 – 1130) he showed to have great strength in defending the rights of the church .Evidence of his attachment to the diocese of Imola is the assignment of a large and rich territory to the church of Imola by means of his famous sealed document, the Bolla.

Benvenuto da Imola

Son of a notary of Imola, Rambaldi was a scholar who knew Boccaccio and listened to his lessons in Florence on the Divine Comedy of Dante. He wrote Romuleon, which is an outline of roman history, and a commentary to Bucoliche and to Georgiche, but he was especially famous for the commentary to the Divine Comedy of Dante (Comentum super Dantis Aligherii comoediam). This text is world renown because of its originality and depth.


He was an important person of great culture, between the Medieval and Humanistic period, who demonstrated in his famous comment of the Divine Comedy, a profound knowledge of the antique sources, critical spirit and expressiveness, thanks to the use of a Latin mixed with some local colloquial expressions, which rendered the text more realistic.

Leonardo da Vinci

The famous map of Imola is work of the illustrious artist. It is the first zenith map and the oldest example of a town map still preserved.


Leonardo was called upon by Cesare Borgia in 1502 as a military engineer to inspect the defence system of the Rocca Sforzesca (Fortress). After inspecting the town, he elaborated the famous urban map, with modern intuition and a picturesque touch, and he also traced some sketches of the antique areas of the town.
These documents belong to the Royal Collection of Windsor Castle.

Caterina Sforza

She was the young bride of Girolamo Riario, future lord of Imola and Forlì, and the legitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, born out of wedlock.
Caterina arrived in Imola for the first time 1st May 1477 and was welcomed with a great celebration. Here , at the age of 14 begins her long political career, which , mixed with legend, tells us the story of an audacious and passionate woman.


In 1488 Girolamo Riario was murdered, after having ruled during the prosperous era of the Renaissance. The years that followed were very tormented for Caterina who ruled alone, while fighting against conspiracies and murders, passionate love stories and new weddings, while still keeping control over Imola and Forlì, until she had to surrender to the troops of Cesare Borgia. This was her decline which led her to imprisonment and finally to a solitary life of isolation.


Her story has always been one of the most fascinating , and she has been portrayed as a strong, vigorous and independent woman and an expert of medicine as well as cosmetics which she herself prepared and experimented.

Taddeo Della Volpe

He was one of the most famous commander of troops of the XVI century, famous for his courage and bravery. He fought under the rule of Cesare Borgia and Pope Giulio II, but his name is most remembered for his services for the Republic of Venice, for which he commanded the troops against Padua and then against the Turks.


When he died, Venice dedicated a monument in his honour in the church of Santa Marina. This monument portrayed him while riding a rampaging horse but unfortunately today it has been lost.
His native home in Imola can be found in Via Bughetti 3. On the first floor of the Municipal building a large painting of him wearing his armour while riding a white horse, can be admired.

Giovanni Sassatelli ‘Cagnaccio’

Giovanni Sassatelli nicknamed ‘Cagnaccio’
The Sassatelli family was one of the most powerful of the town during the XV to XVIII centuries, but for sure Giovanni – nicknamed ‘Cagnaccio’ (Mad Dog) for his shrewdness and violence, was the most famous.


His adventures took place in the violent period of town fights between the Pope’s supporters (Guelfi) and the Emperor’s supporters (Ghibellini). Giovanni Sassatelli was a leader of the Guelfi and he fought against Guido Vaini, leader of the opposition. The hostility between the two families brought on much violence which reached the climax on the night of 21st June 1504 when the Vaini supporters attacked their rivals who were barracked up in the family mansion, the present Palazzo Monsignani.


It was Giovanni himself who changed the course of the battle, by coming in aid with his 150 soldiers: for the Vaini ’s soldiers it was a massacre which happened in the small side-street which was then renamed Vicolo Inferno (the street of hell) because of the blood that was shed.

Innocenzo Francucci

Innocenzo da Imola deserved the title of ‘Raffaello of Romagna’ for his harmonious classical touch in painting. He was the son of a goldsmith, and apprentice to Francesco Francia of Bologna – famous and influential painter of this period.


In 1515 he is ready to open his own shop in Imola, and it’s at this time that he paints ‘La Madonna in Trono con Bambino con San Cassiano and San Pier Grisologo in atto di adorazione’, presently on exposition in the Pinacoteca Comunale of Imola. This portrait is said to have been painted as a sign of gratitude towards the municipality for having provided him with the grant which enabled him to start his studies in Bologna. The painting represents the patron saints of Imola, with S Cassiano holding the town in his hands.


In 1517 Innocenzo leaves Imola and moves to Bologna, a change which permits him to create paintings of higher prestige and fame. The large altar paintings and the numerous religious works rendered Innocenzo one of the most important religious painters commissioned by the leading families of Bologna.


Among his students from Imola are Gaspare Sacchi, who was greatly inspired by his teacher, as it can be seen in his painting “Sposalizio della Madonna e Santi”, which for a long time was attributed to Innocenzo, and Prospero Fontana, influential painter of the bolognese style, and whose daughter Lavinia, was the author of important paintings of our town, for example, the large painting for the church of the present Town Hall. It represents the patron saints of Imola worshipping Mother Mary. Today this work of art can be admired in the Pinacoteca Comunale.

Luca Ghini

He was a botanical scientist who highly contributed in the scientific analysis of plants in a period when the use of plants for medical use oscillated between magical rituals and official cures.


In 1539 he became professor at the University of Bologna, and his fame rose to such a point that he was asked by Cosimo I dei Medici to transfer to Pisa where he started the first university botanical garden, which soon became famous throughout Europe.


Thanks to his studies in Pisa he wrote the first ‘Index Seminum’ of the history of botanical science.

Antonio Maria Valsalva

He was a well-known doctor from Imola. An excellent student of the prominent Doctor Marcello Malpighi with whom he divided the curiosity and passion for the sciences during a period when the church imposed limits on these studies.


He became a University professor of anatomy and surgery at the University of Bologna and today is remembered as the founder for the basic theories for the study of the anatomy and physiology of the ear.

Giovan Battista Zappi

Giovan Battista Zappi was born in Imola of a family whose talent in poetry had already been proved by Giovan Battista’s grandfather.


After graduating in Law in Bologna in 1685, he moved to Rome where he was among the founders of the Arcadian poetry school. His many sonnets, canzoni, madrigals gained him a long-lasting reputation.

Giovanni Domenico Trifogli

Imola was one of the cities that benefited from the phenomenon known as the ‘Comacini Masters’: architects and master masons from Ticino, Switzerland – often related to one another – who were able to provide expert, close-knit teams and who exchanged techniques and commissions. In 1704, Imola offered Domenico Trifogli the important renovation of the cathedral’s crypt.


From that moment until the mid-1700s, he worked tirelessly in the city, completing high-profile religious and secular projects: Codronchi Palace near Sforza Castle, the refurbishment of the Carmelite church and monastery, Palazzo Tozzoni and the convent of the Poor Clares, located along present-day Via Cavour.

Cincinnato Baruzzi

He was a brilliant student of Canova, and when his tutor died he took over his studio and continued producing works of art closely following the neo-classic style of his master. For the next thirty years he continued to win esteem and admiration both nationally and internationally.


The Emperor of Russia, the King of Baviera, the Prince of Metternich and Carlo Alberto di Savoia were just a few of his illustrious regular customers.


The new cultural fashions and the new political ideals which followed the unification of Italy marked the decline of the artist and the disappearance of his works of art.
Of those left in Imola, there is a bust of Francesco Alberghetti which is on exhibit in the room of the Consiglio Comunale in the Municipal building, and the busts of Cornelio Silla and Luigi Valeriani in the Municipal Library.

Cosimo Morelli

Cosimo Morelli – originally from Ticino, Switzerland, but born in Imola – was the most sought-after architect in the Papal States in the second half of the eighteenth century and was one of the most active exponents of the neoclassical movement in Italy. He was particularly active in Imola where he was responsible for the construction and renovation of many buildings, becoming an up-and-coming figure in the architectural field during a transformation process that changed the face of the city.


He was able to rely on a trusted group of artisans in his pay, as well as valuable partnerships with the painters Alessandro Dalla Nave, Antonio Villa and Angelo Gottarelli. Works by Cosimo Morelli include the final stages of the renovation of the town hall, the new hospital outside the city walls and the neoclassical refurbishment of the Church of Santa Maria in Regola.