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Italia – Riola di Vergato

Madness and genius of an eccentric Count

Count Mattei was well established and highly sought after as a homeopath. This was thanks to his invention, electro homeopathy, in which the power of herbs was combined with that of plant electricity, and which at the time was said to even be able to cure cancer.

Even then, Mattei owned pharmaceutical companies all over the world and people were coming from all over the world to be treated for all kinds of diseases; guests of the Rocchetta were for example Ludwig of Bavaria and Tsar Alexander II. Even Dostoevskji quoted the Count in “The Karamazov Brothers”, when the devil said to be able to heal from terrible rheumatism thanks to the drops of Count Mattei.

On the Count’s death in 1896, his adopted son Mario Venturoli took over and completed some projects left unfinished. Unfortunately, Venturoli did not leave equally sensitive heirs. And when the war came, the German troops first and the population then took away the paintings, the carpets, almost all the furniture … even the doors with the relative jambs.

In 1959, Primo Stefanelli bought it, known as the “Mercantone”, who, to honor his nickname, finished selling the furniture that had escaped the raids of the war, used it as a restaurant and hotel and then abandoned the Rocchetta to the vandalism of visitors and neglect.

In the splendid interiors of the Rocchetta evocative films were shot, such as “Balsamus” by Pupi Avati and “Enrico IV” by Marco Bellocchio. Today the magnificent Rocchetta has been partially restored and, at certain times of the year, it is possible to visit it by appointment.

You can find the full version of this report on:
OASIS – Environmental culture magazine – n. 225