Inside the Rocca Brancaleone, a defensive fortress built by the Venetians from 1457 onwards, there is now a vast 17,000 square metre garden, with free admission, equipped with a bar and restrooms.
The gardens were created in the early 1970s at the instigation of the Soprintendenza per i Beni Ambientali e Architettonici (Environmental and Architectural Heritage Office) of the provinces of Ravenna, Ferrara and Forlì. An open-air theatre was also inaugurated on the occasion.
The Parco della Rocca is an enclosed green space, closed at night, much loved by the people of Ravenna, who like to spend their weekend afternoons there, but also very popular for the important theatre, music and film performances held there.
In 1974, Ravenna Jazz was born here, a popular appointment with Afro-American music; in the 1980s, opera was performed here, with wonderful productions by Aldo Rossi and Gae Aulenti and, at the end of the 1990s, the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala (La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra), conducted by Maestro Riccardo Muti, performed within the walls of the fortress. During the long summer nights, the open-air cinema is particularly popular.
In addition to sandstone footpaths, the gardens contain children’s playgrounds, a skating rink, benches and drinking fountains. There is also a large dog area outside the walls. In addition, there is an educational trail with panels illustrating the historical and architectural features of the fortress and providing information on the plants in the park.
In 1988, thanks to a new public scheme, the area around the fortress was redeveloped with new street furniture and some improvements that made the whole area accessible to everyone. More recently, a refreshment bar was opened in the green area, which has been further expanded over the years, with the aim of completing a total redevelopment of the Rocca and the surrounding green area.