The first definite mention of the Castle of Levizzano, built as a defensive bulwark against the Hungarians, appears in a document dated 890. In 1038, the bishop of Modena ceded it to the Marquis Bonifacio of Tuscany, the father of Matilda of Canossa. From the twelfth century onwards the fortified complex underwent restoration and expansion.
The Bishop’s rooms (Stanze del Vescovo) on the ground floor, with their beautifully frescoed ceilings, date back to the sixteenth century. Family coats of arms adorn the lacunar ceiling, along with allegorical figures and friezes. Along the top of the walls are frescoes of chivalrous scenes, romantic moments, hunting, but also rural landscapes with small villages and castles which recall the places round about.
A short distance from the Castle of Levizzano, following the old pilgrim route of the Via Tiberia, we reach the Oratory of San Michele situated in a splendid panoramic position. Probably dating back to the twelfth century, it represents a real jewel of Romanesque Art. The current structure, recently restored, conserves its ancient rectangular plan, the decoration of the main façade, to the west, and a secondary door on the southern façade.
Two series of four finely sculpted blind arcades branch into three splayed archivolts at the side of the door on the main façade. Meanwhile, the door on the southern side almost completely preserves an archivolt decorated with a fine frieze of palmettes. The only ornamentation currently present inside the building are the fourteenth century frescoes, in which are recognizable certain figures of saints: James the Greater, with his pilgrim’s staff, faded green cassock and red cloak, Mary Magdalene, with her long blond hair completely covering her body, Saint John the Baptist, dressed in fur, and Saint Anthony, with his dark cassock and cloak.