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Roberto Van Heugten

Roberto Van Heugten, emerging writer with many publications to his credit, writes of game on the pages of Italy4golf, in the column "Lost balls in Italy".
The narrative is different: in fact, in its pages it speaks of sport, but above all of territories and hospitality.


18 holes at Matilde Golf with Alberto Genovesi


Emilia Romagna is a region that has always spoken for itself. There is no glimpse, panorama, tower, wall, castle, church or manor villa that does not have at least a few hundred years of stories to tell.

Everyone has been here, no one excluded. Even the sea, in very remote geological times, has not been able to avoid a territory that today is among the richest, the most fertile and the variest in southern Europe. Excelling even just in one continent thanks to biodiversity and history is not a small thing, trust me.

While wandering in such a fascinating region, sometimes it happens to discover small treasures that give value to the trip and enrich the memories of the tourist. It is like in a game of Chinese boxes or at the bottom of the opening of a complex matryoshka, or, as in this case, they give the travelling golfer a collection of memories to frame.

It is the “Matilde Golf” effect, also known as the Matilde di Canossa Golf Club. The new logo and denomination are the result of the recent entrance of a fierce corporate company, which brings a series of very interesting projects.

If compared to plays of the past, I can immediately confirm a welcome surprise, soon transmitted to my friend Alberto Genovesi who did with me the eighteen holes on a hot day of August: the course is beautiful! It seems evident even at the eye of an “amateur bbb” like me that some maintenance choices can give appreciated results.

Finding in mid-August, an emerald course with healthy greens and playable fairways almost everywhere is not as obvious as you might think. The institutional choices of recent years regarding the zeroing of chemical pesticides are putting a strain on everyone and everything (fields and managers).

Here at Matilde, they have found the right combination between irrigation, mowing, use of reinforcing seeds and natural fertilizers that rewards those who invest; instead, the one who focuses on the savings pays the price in terms of satisfaction of the player and lacked detachment of greenfees.

I mentioned the word “player” and I again pay homage with a short story of my experience in the field. Regarding the score, there is no need. It does not bother me, as I have always been a lover of the golf path and not of the search for birdie at all costs. In this regard, I warn the seekers of points that here there is to sweat, to get the result. No hole is banal, you will always have feet above the ball, and there are those two-three airport fairways where play “green in regulation” is reserved to pro-players. Get disillusioned now!

Since man does not live only by tee shot, now I speak about clubhouse and environments, that is better. Well, what to say… We are in the middle of Emilia, in the centre of the universally known “Food Valley“. What may ever be missing? Not the courtesy, of course. You arrive here, nobody knows you, but you are family. You sit down and order a regular end-of-the-road beer that will not come with some simple chips. No, it comes to the table with a tray of slices of “erbazzone” and salted croissants with raw ham, as you eat it here, not as you find it at the supermarket. Unfortunately, I did not try the cuisine at a proper dinner, but I promised everyone I’ll get back to remedy this mistake.

Yes, because when you step on Emilian land, the biggest insult that you can make is leaving before sunset, giving up the scents of the cuisine and the conviviality of a table with Lambrusco and Malvasia.

The Terre di Canossa around the Matilde

The province of Reggio Emilia is characterized, like the sisters Piacenza, Parma, Modena and Bologna, by a demanding coexistence between hot valleys in summer (and freezing in winter) and hills that rarely are more than a thousand meters of altitude.

Everywhere rivers and streams flow. Except for the urbanized areas (there aren’t metropolis, only Bologna has a more significant dimension), the residents are surrounded by vast cultivated countries. When you begin to climb up, woods are the master of a hilly territory marked by few farms and small medieval villages that were renovated with respect and knowledge.

Despite some rough routes, the viability is good nearly everywhere. The hamlet of San Bartolomeo, which hosts Matilde Golf, is fifteen minutes from Reggio Emilia’s exit of A1. Little architectonic gem: for those coming from Bologna or A22 of Brennero, the highway runs along with the station of Medio Padana’s high-speed train, the engineering and design masterpiece (de gustibus, of course) by Calatrava.

The tourist offer is attractive. Apart from some centralized hotel accommodation in Reggio Emilia reserved mainly for business clients, the self-driving tourist has the right to get lost in the hills looking through villas and farmhouses for hospitality, in a varied network able to satisfy even the most demanding guests. A reliable source for suggestions is the Matilde Golf itself: here you can receive information about where and how to stay in good condition.

In the vicinity of the club, there are two points of historical interest which are worth a visit. The castle of Canossa, whose ruins can be visited only externally, tells an ancient from a unique position. Above all, you should visit it for the inspiration that comes from the place and for the numerous historical events that have taken place here. Another castle, perfectly preserved and martial in its appearance, is Bianello castle, situated in the hills of Quattro Castella. Annually in its elegant halls is held the re-enactment of the history of Matilde, not the golf club, of course, but the Grancontessa from the medieval era, from whom the golf course took its name.

But this is not the last thing you can visit! Since the surrounding area offers many opportunities for both golfing and accommodation, who better than Italy4golf can organize the ideal golf trip ranging between the four cardinal points through the Food Valley?

Roberto Van Heugten
Italy4golf Italian Ambassador

Alberto Genovesi, Bianello, Calatrava, castello di Canossa, Emilia Romagna, erbazzone, Food Valley, golf tourism in Italy, Grancontessa Matilde, Lambrusco, malvasia, Matilde di Canossa Golf Club, Quattro Castella, Reggio Emilia, Roberto Van Heugten, San Bartolomeo, Terre di Canossa


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