Last sunday it was a sunny and very spring-ish day. Our friends M&R called to ask if we wanted to join them and go to a little city in the nearby province of Reggio Emilia, Correggio, where there was a fair they wanted to see. It was the right occasion to test our new car, so we picked them up early afternoon and drove the 50kms till there.
Archaeological recoveries document the existence of human presence (probably Celtic or Ligurian) during the iron age, Vl and V centuries B.C. Many Roman evidences prove that, without making it a real organized urban center, the land here was submitted to the Roman colonization. Correggio certainly was not born as a Roman town; it shows a clear medieval origin instead, tied to the longobardic domination. The name “Coregia” appears for the first time in a document in 946. It’s dated 1009 the first document in which it’s found a reference to the “Di Correggio” the family that ruled this territory for almost seven centuries.
The first impression as soon as we found a parking lot where to leave the car, was a building they call the “Torrione” (big tower)
One of the monuments of great interest in Correggio, the Tower, known also as Bastion of Charles V, is an elegant building realized in Liberty style in the XX century. The building has a little stretched out “U” form, with bricks’ façade with yellow and red colors. The building is a valid example of industrial archaeology. The Tower rises above the remains of one of the sixteenth-century bastions, once placed here as protection of the city. The initial purpose of the structure was as a drying warehouse for coccoons, vinasse storing and distillery, thanks to the then isolated position and the height the structure reached. Later the Tower was purchased by the Municipality of Correggio for housing elderly people. Very beautiful are the ornamental friezes realized in cement,seen on the façade, and the dolphins woven to shoots of grapevine, the mouldings of the windows, the pinnacles and the anchor on the principal prospectus.
This is the most impressive building, but there are many beautiful and old houses in town….
Below, the theater dedicated to the musician Bonifazio Asioli, an elegant palace in neclassical style that was built on the ruins of a preexisting theater destroyed in 1889 by a violent fire, and that in turn ,englobed the remains of a fifteenth-century building….
Near the theater, there’s Palazzo dei Principi (Palace of the Princes). It’s the most representative Renaissance building in the city, architectural seal of the golden era of the Correggio family.The building is expression of the artistic influence from Ferrara on the court of Correggio, thanks to the strong bonds with the Ferrara families and the involvement in planning the building of the great architect-urbanist Biagio Rossetti. The façade is simple and harmonious, in visible bricks with single and mullioned windows in relief and a beautiful frame just below the roof. A beautiful portal, one of the most meaningful of the Renaissance, richly decorated to bas-relief and an elegant marble balcony above are located on the front wall. Inside there’s a beautiful courtyard, surrounded by tall marble columns with stupendous capitals. At the moment the palace houses the Lectures’ Room “Arrigo Recordati” (with the adjacent Room of the Children) and the City Library “Giulio Einaudi.” At the first floor some rooms are dedicated to the “Correggio Museum”, while to the second floor is for historical files and the ancient funds of the library.
Just opposite the palace, there’s a narrow street where’s located the St. Chiara Monastery, dated from 1605. The Monastery, of an enclosed order, it is not accessible to the public, with the exception of the Church of Saint Chiara, that leans out on the so-called Square of the Nuns.
A short walk from the Church of St. Chiara, the monastic complex and the Cathedral of St. Francis.
It is the most ancient church of the city, some members of the Correggio family are buried here, as well as the famous painter Anthony Allegri, “The Correggio” till 1641, when moved to the cloister due to some works in the church and then lost.The church has a façade in bricks, crowned with bows shaped as shell. Inside, three aisles with crossing vaults .The vaults are sustained by columns and pillars adorned with marmoreal capitals and ogival arcs. Built a first time in 1420, from Giberto VIII from Correggio, it was rebuilded, among 1469 and 1470, by Manfredo II and his wife Agnese Pio. The building remained nevertheless incomplete and, among 1475 and 1484, it was finally finished. Over the years it was enriched with the Baroque chapels and the windows were modified. The church housed up to 1638 two juvenile paintings of the Correggio: the Madonna of St. Francis, now at the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden and the Rest in Egypt with san Francis now at the Uffizi in Florence. On October 15th 1996 a strong earthquake seriously damaged the structures of the church, still under renovation due to the lack of funds.
What remains of the old monastery external walls is this beautiful colonnade. The building now houses a high school.
At the end of the colonnade there’s a little square witl the old palace that once was the old court of law. On the front of the palace, at the end of WWII, they placed the “Winged Victory” the monument to the fallen
To go back to the starting point, we had to walk through the flowers and plants market, and it was a feast for the eyes………..
On the other side of the parking lot, there’s the native house of the painter Correggio. The actual building was built in 1775 by Duke Francis Contarelli on the area where the painter’s residence rose (1489 -1534). It was probably a little cottage of few rooms, with a little courtyard, with a ground floor workshop and first habitable floor. Neglected fora long time, the house was recovered to the local historical memory putting on the façade a registration dictated by the historiographer Setti in 1811, then overhung by a medallion in plaster with the face of the painter, work of Eusebio Casalgrandi. A 1852 memorial stone was placed in the middle of the courtyard, erect in 1880 by Prospero Viani. The now called “Correggio Art Home” is a center of documentation devoted to Anthonio Allegri and it has a scientific section with a library endowed with ancient and modern volumes and a multimedia room, developing and promoting cultural activities and exploitation of the figure of the artist.
When we left Correggio it was already late afternoon and we knew the road home would be very busy. So we decided to have dinner out in Novellara (another little historical town worth a visit) at a place our friend R already knew, a little expensive but very good. We had great food, it was the perfect match for a great day…..