The Rocca Sforzesca is the registered Head Office of the Imola International Piano Academy "Incontri col Maestro".

The castle's origins, in the absence of any comprehensive documentation, is a matter of debate between the various experts who have studied the monument. However, some have the opinion that the construction of the fortress began in the early fourteenth century. Most of the local historians recall an earlier fortress, dating from the eleventh century, whose uncertain location may coincide with the present one, as has been surmised through the unearthing of older masonry during the recent restoration.

The original fourteenth century structure, built around a possibly pre-existing square tower, is the current quadrangular complex with quadrilateral towers, still visible inside the circular ones, in each of the corners. This structure was completed with five towers ideally located along the curtain walls, as significant archaelogical traces have shown.

According to L. Marinelli, the fortress was modified in 1332 in several respects: the defensive perimeter was developed and a large moat was created around the structure. The fort remained in this condition until 1440 when Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan, assumed control over it.

It was Sforza, in fact, who entrusted the architect Danesio Maineri with making modifications to the castle: adding the partial scalloping of the parapet crowning the curtain walls, and, from 1472-74, modernizing the defenses, which gave the Rocca the typical aspect of a Renaissance castle. The square towers at the top were also transformed into circular towers that were better suited to withstanding artillery assaults, while two ramparts, with communicating fixed and mobile bridges, were added near each of the fort's entrances.

The Rocchetta, considered until recent times to be the oldest part of the castle, actually dates from a later epoch. This is supported by the fact that the main tower structures (one of the oldest sections of the entire fort) originated from a much lower height and are totally unrelated to, and independent from, the adjacent structures of the Rocchetta.

Among many historical events of interest, of note is the relentless siege on the fortress by Cesare Borgia in 1499, forcing Caterina Riario Sforza to lose her Imola domain. At first under the dominion of Cesare Borgia, and then later under Clement VII, three of the greatest military engineers of the time, Leonardo da Vinci, Sangallo and Sanmicheli, were tasked with looking after the fortress.

After a period of changing fortunes, during which various eminent public figures, such as Guicciardini, were in charge of public affairs, the fortress gradually declined and was transformed into a prison. The substantial restoration done on the fort by the Municipality of Imola and the Office of Antiquities and Fine Arts from 1959 to 1973, allowed the monument to be fully integrated into the urban layout of the city, while inside the building, a permanent exhibition of antique weapons and of Medieval and Renaissance ceramics found inside the fortress was created.

Currently the large courtyard is used as an open-air theater where many important art exhibitions and musical performances have featured over the years.

Since 1989 the Rocca has been the registered Head Office of the International Piano Academy “Incontri col Maestro”. The Municipality of Imola has judged our institution of particular importance to the promotion of the city's culture and music, and has consequently granted the Academy the use of the premises of "Palazzetto Riario", located inside the fortress.

The Imola Academy has the use of two conference rooms and several first floor rooms, which are used as classrooms, offices, library and a student lounge.

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