The main city of the territories of the Ceramic area ( together with Fiorano Modenese, Maranello and Formigine), Sassuolo is an important industrial and handicraft center of the province of Modena, located in a hilly area along the banks of the river Secchia. The origins of its name are uncertain and divided between two different schools of thought: some historians believe that it derives from the "olio di sasso" (rock oil - petroleum), of which the underground, here, is rich, and who, instead, claims that it derives from the presence of a settlement on a small hillside ("Saxo-solo", precisely).
In the early Middle Ages the control of the city was submitted to the Byzantines at first, then to the Bishops of Parma, to the Canossa and finally to the City of Modena. In 1373, on request of the citizens themselves, the rule passed to the d'Este and Sassuolo flourished in a period of great splendor, proceeding to the construction of new churches and palaces. The development of commercial activities gave way to the establishment of several manufacturing initiatives: silk, wool, textiles, ceramic tiles and handmade pottery.
Sites of Interest:
- the Old Town square, built in the XVI century, features the curious presence of two side canals, the only remnants of a large water canal distribution system that flowed through most of the ancient village. In 1676/77, the Palazzo della Ragione was flanked by the Clock Tower (or Civic), built by the architect Loraghi;
- Palazzo Ducale, a jewel of Baroque architecture, the castle was transformed into a noble residence by Francesco I d'Este. It was lavishly decorated with frescoes by Jean Boulanger, the official painter of the Este court, which was assisted by Angelo Michele Colonna and Agostino Militelli. The main floor is accessible by a imposing staircase and features 28 rooms, each one representing the members of the ruling family in Modena: the Gallery of Bacchus, the Apartment of the Duke, the Hall of the Guards, the Apartment decorated with Stucco , the Apartment of Duchess, in part, the Apartment of Orlando;
- the Thermal Baths of Salvarola, whose therapeutic properties were already known to the Romans. It features three types of water: sulphide-carbon; bromine-iodine, magnesium-sulfide-bicaronato.
- the Church of St. Francesco in Rocca, built in 1650 by the will of Francesco I d'Este, on design of the architect of Rome, Bartolomeo Avanzini. Beautifully frescoed by Boulanger, the church is a single nave plan, covered by a barrel vault and with two shallow side chapels. Inside the church is preserved a relic of the Sacred Butt, donated to the city by Marco Pio in the XVI century;
- the Church of St. George, mentioned since 1318, has been renovated several times in later centuries. In the XVII century the Bell Tower was rebuilt and was commissioned to Boulanger, the painting of "Madonna and Child with Saints patrons of Sassuolo". Between the XVIII and XIX century the church was enlarged to meet the needs of a growing population. Inside it is possible to admire paintings by Antonio Bresciani and Francesco Vellani;
- the Church of the Madonna di Sotto (or del Macero), of which there is news since 1287. The current building features a façade rebuilt after World War II, a XVII century Bell Tower with Baroque stucco elements;
- the Church of St. Joseph, located where once stood a small chapel dedicated to the saint. Inside are preserved paintings by Giarola, a remarkable monumental organ built in 1655 by Antonio Colonna and the famous "Madonna del Merlo";
- Church of Santa Chiara, with paintings of XVIII century Emilian Art school;
- the monumental Cemetery, with typical graves in ceramic of Sassuolo.