It is the symbolic monument of Castellarano, a village located in the lower part of the Secchia valley. Once the only entrance to the fortified town, the Rocchetta was also the first outpost protecting the centre. A scenic eastern entrance to the citadel, on the slopes of the hill, the fortress has three gates, one of which is pointed, a central keep and two lateral ones. Today it hosts temporary exhibitions and cultural initiatives. The Hanging Garden, which is linked to the keep, is a splendid corner of the village that hosts cultural initiatives and summer banquets.
The tour of the old town starts from the Rocchetta and leads along the cobbled streets to Monte di Pietà, the Rione San Prospero, the ancient parish church and the Aia del Mandorlo, a natural overlook on the Rocca Matildica and the Torre dell'Orologio, which also offers a splendid view over the valley of the river Secchia. Castellarano is linked to the history of the Canossa family: in 1039 it became the property of Marquis Bonifacio di Canossa and on his death it passed to his daughter Matilde. Of the Canossa-Matildic period (10th-10th century), few traces remain. It is known that Countess Matilda owned a house and chapel in Castellarano, which she donated to the Monastery of Polirone (San Benedetto Po); in 1106, the Countess held a placitum at the church of Santa Maria and entrusted the government of Castellarano to a family of local nobles, in particular Miles Raniero da Castellarano. The family did not live long, however, and in 1187, the time of the commune, Castellarano swore allegiance to the commune of Reggio Emilia, which was interested in controlling the important canal that brought the precious and indispensable Secchia river water to the city.