A municipality of Reggio Emilia, located in Lower Reggiana area, Guastalla has been inhabited since Etruscan times, as evidenced by recent archaeological finds brought to light. In the Lombard period the settlement was a garrison, known as "Wartstall" (from which derives the town's name). The name appears for the first time in a document dated 864, in which the Emperor Louis II ceded the town to his wife Angilberga. Later it passed to the Canossa, then to the Torelli and, in 1539, to the Gonzaga. Under this domain, Guastalla flourished in a period of great splendor and cultural and economic fervor: it became a inspiring destination for the most famous architects, poets and personalities of the time and assumed the aspect of a real capital of a Duchy. In 1689 the town submitted the attach of the Spanish, that destroyed all the fortifications, which gave way to a period of slow decline.
Sites of Interest:
- St. Peter's Cathedral, built in the XVI century from the designs of the architect Volterra and consecrated in 1575 by Cardinal Borromeo. Over the years it has submitted significant alterations, particularly in the façade that has been embellished with Baroque forms. Inside are preserved several works of art, such as: Our Lady of the Castle, a cedar wood statue placed originally at the entrance of the ancient XV century fortress, and other masterpieces of famous artists (G.B. Crespi known as il Cerano, Gerolamo Degiovanni and Ludovico Ceroli known as Cigoli);
- the Church of the Annunciation, built in the early XVII century and restored a century later, contains a valuable painting by Giuseppe Maria Crespi, stolen by Napoleon, later returned, an altarpiece of Giovanni Massa and other works of the Bolognini and Pietro Antonio Rotari;
- the Church of Our Lady of the Gate, in Baroque style;
- the Baroque Church of San Francesco, which was built on request of the Duke Ferrante II;
- the Romanesque Church of Pieve, the oldest building in town, whose original structure dates from the X century. It was the seat of a synod in 1095, with the Pope of the First Crusade, Urban II, and a council in 1106 by Pasquale II. It had the privilege of being "Dioecesis nullius", that was independent of local bishops and directly subject only to the Holy Seat. It was under the protection of Matilda of Canossa, who probably participated in it restyling, making it an important place of worship for centuries, also seat of a famous baptismal font for those who participated in the Crusades;
- the Oratory of San Giorgio, built in the X century, with Baroque frescoes;
- the small Church of St. Girolamo, in Baroque style;
- Palazzo Ducale, built on the remains of a pre-existing XV century construction that belonged to the Torelli family, which was completed in the next century by Cesare Gonzaga on designs of the architect Volterra;
- the Civic Tower, representing the ancient fortress destroyed by the Spanish in 1690.
- the Municipal Theater, built in 1671 by Ferrante III.