Barozzi Palace (Palazzo Barozzi)
Home to one of the most dazzling spiral staircases in Italy, the 16th-century Barozzi Palace (Palazzo Barozzi) is by far the main attraction of sleepy Vignola—a town just outside Modena. Take a jaunt through the area’s famed cherry orchards and admire the elegant structure, created by Renaissance architect Jacopo Barozzi.
Also known as Palazzo Boncompagni in honor of the Boncompagni family who commissioned it, the palace features a massive spiral staircase that winds more than 40 feet (12 meters) up through the structure’s four floors. The main support columns are in the basement and at the very top of the spiral, creating the illusion that the 106 steps are floating in space.
Take in the palace as part of an architectural bike tour through the countryside of Emilia Romagna, stopping to sample wine in the area’s cellars along the way, or as an independent day trip from nearby Modena or Bologna.
Things to Know Before You Go
The free-floating spiral staircase makes for striking photos, so be sure to bring your camera.
Much of Vignola’s historic center and its 12-century fortress can only be explored on foot, so choose comfortable shoes for your visit.
The palace is not accessible to wheelchairs or strollers.
Vignola is known for its cherry orchards, and you can stop at one of the roadside stands to buy fresh cherries when driving or biking into town.
How to Get There
Barozzi Palace is located on Piazza dei Contrari in the historic center of Vignola, roughly 30 minutes by road from Modena. Arriving by public transportation involves making a number of train and bus connections, so the most convenient way to visit is by car or with a guided tour.
When to Get There
The palace is only open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays, and some holidays, so time your visit carefully. The surrounding area has long been known for its fruit orchards and vineyards; visit in the spring to sample local cherries and other delicacies and in the fall to catch the grape harvest.
Barozzi, the Renaissance Architect Known as Vignola
The Renaissance architect Jacopo Barozzi is often called simply Vignola as an homage to the town where he was born. In addition to the palace that bears his name, Barozzi is most known for the elegant Farnese Palace (Palazzo Farnese) in Caprarola and Rome’s Villa Giulia—today home to the National Etruscan Museum (Museo Nazionale Etrusco).