Monthly Archives: May 2015

All by myself, part three

While walking toward the Diotti Museum, and stopping to take photo of the imposing buildings on the two sides of the Street (see my previous post on Casalmaggiore), I noticed the Duomo closing the view. Could I pass it without a close up? No way….

The Cathedral of Saint Stephen is the mother church of the city, built on the site of the former temple that dated back at the time of Matilda. Built from 1840 by the local architect Fermo Zuccari, the cathedral was consecrated in 1861. Of neoclassical style, the elevation given by a wide staircase that leads to a porch with arches that gice access to the temple,with a Greek cross plan, and each side presents an order of Corinthian columns. The presbytery is raised to allow the construction of the crypt below. Among the furnishings from the previous Church, in addition to the paintings, a majestic organ Serassi adapted to the new premises and a large choir placed behind the main altar, with stalls of the seventeenth century. The bell tower, between the church and the Abbey Palace, could be built only a few decades after the consecration of the temple, in 1898, when they were found the necessary economic resources. It features a concert of eight bells, recently renovated. About seventy meters high, has become rightly one of the best known symbols of the city and one of the tallest towers in the province.

Of impressive dimensions (length. 70 m .; width. 52 m .; height of the dome about 55 meters), it was so designed to emphasize the importance reached by the town after being raised to Royal City and with unconcealed hope (never realized) to be nominated as Bishop Cathedra, head of its own diocese independent and freed from Cremona.

Inside paintings by Giovan Battista Trotti said Malosso – The Last Supper – (mid ‘500), by Christopher Agosta, a local artist disciple of Malosso – The Adoration of the Magi -, William Hunt said Moncalvo, (first half of ‘600) – Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. Near the main altar there’s  a copy painted in the eighteenth century by Marco Antonio Ghislina of Madonna and St. Stephen also known as Our Lady of Casalmaggiore a work of 1540 by Francesco Mazzola, called Parmigianino, executed for the pre-existent church of St. Stephen. That table became a possession of the pictures gallery of the Duke of Modena Francesco I d’Este, to pass, after many twists and turns, to the Gemaldegalerie in Dresden where it is now. It was one of the last works of Parmigianino, who died in Casalmaggiore in 1540 and was buried in the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Fontana, just outside the city.

Inside there were priests and friars, I didn’t want to bother them too much, so I took some photos with my cell phone almost secretly, so forgive me if they’re a little blurry….

And finally the G.Diotti Museum. Inside it’s forbidden to take photos ….and you know how mad I become when I’m told “no photos allowed”, so…..yes, I took some, my bad, while the tour guide wasn’t looking….

The museum was created in 2007 to house the Civic art collections in the building that was home-studio of neoclassical painter Giuseppe Diotti (1779-1846), born in Casalmaggiore, long-director and professor at the Carrara Academy of Bergamo. At the origin of the museum project, edited by Valter Rosa, more than a decade of research and exhibitions designed to raise awareness and promote the production of major artists of the area, from the mid-eighteenth century to the present. The exhibition was made possible thanks to the program that allowed the City to have support by the Lombardy Region and the Province of Cremona, with the aim of bringing together under one roof all the civic art collections, ensuring in this way a better conservation, enhancement and public use, also giving special attention to the research, educational services and temporary exhibitions such as qualifying requirements of a modern museum.

Due to the origin of the house as the home of the artist, the museum develops in particular the issues of the studio and the artist’s work. The house-atelier of Giuseppe Diotti, in the main floor, is a museum of the nineteenth century: starting from the works of the precursors and masters of Diotti, his early works and the maturity ones, to the production of the students and the profound changes that occurred in the art of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

The new wing of the palace, The Gallery of Modern Art, is dedicated to the painters of the twentieth century: the main ones are Goliardo Padua, Gianfranco Manara and Tino Aroldi, all related to the theme of landscapes (and here finally I could use my camera freely!). One wing of the building is dedicated to the path of the studios: here are rebuilt with original materials the workplaces pof ainter Goliardo Padova, the painter-decorator and sculptor Ercole Palmiro Vezzoni Priori. The Rossari Space is a special room reserved for temporary exhibitions alternating solo and group exhibitions devoted to moments and figures of local art history.

A branch of the museum is represented by the School of drawing “Bottoli”, an ancient school of arts and crafts whose collections allow you to document the history of art education in Casalmaggiore in the nineteenth century and offers important examples of applied arts and crafts This section is housed in the Renaissance Palazzo Martinelli, a few hundred meters from the Museum Diotti. Once called  House Vaini, is a valuable construction of the fifteenth century with a brick facade, which shows a simple but beautiful door, Bramante style. The windows present very rich ornamentsin in terracotta. The interior as well presents staircases, ceilings and doors in the characteristics of the buildings of that era. It was home of Don Ferdinando Francesco Ferrante d’Avalos, Marquis of Pescara, consort of Vittoria Colonna, when Philip II granted him the fief of Casalmaggiore. 

And that was the end of a very busy day but relaxing as well……….when I got out of the school, the first rain was falling, so I needed to find a shelter …..and I found one that had a indoor garden….

I couldn’t stay forever anyway; looking outside the tent I could see the rain was still heavy……can you imagine what a mess I was when I finally reached my car?….



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Posted by on May 29, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Quote of the week

“I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.”

(J.R.R. Tolkien)

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Posted by on May 27, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Per 4 servings

  • 4 veal steaks
  • ham
  • 3 oz butter
  • 3 ½ oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • breadcrumbs
  • broth
  • salt and pepper

Clean the slices and pound them carefully, dip in the beaten egg and bread-crumbs, put 1/4 cup of butter in a pan and brown the cutlets.

On top of each of them put the prosciutto and the cheese in flakes. Pour on 2 spoonfuls of hot stock, place a nob of butter and leave in the pan until the cheese has melted.

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Posted by on May 25, 2015 in Uncategorized



All by myself, part two

I choose a little “hostaria” for my lunch, where I had some grilled meat and potatoes…..I was one of the few guests because I went in early, and I had time to enjoy my meal in total peace….

Then, reinvigorated by lunch and a good coffee, I started to walk around till the opening of another museum I wanted to see. In Casalmaggiore there are lots of beautiful houses, some old, some new but built in style with the others, like this beautiful villa renovated in a somehow medieval art, housing an insurance company….

The church and convent of San Francesco, one of the first erected in honor of the saint, in its present appearance is a reconstruction and rebuilding in a new form of an existing church, which was destroyed during World War I, when a raging fire broke out inside, being used at the time as a warehouse for the troops. From the previous church , dating from the fourteenth century, remain the bell tower and the apse, which in the new building constitutes a transept. The lower part of the tower dates back to the first building of the church; the top tells us of remakes made ​​at later dates. Next to the church, the convent of the Friars Minor of St Francis, built in the second half of the thirteenth century, a few decades after the death of St. Francis. In 1713 it was rebuilt by the Fathers Guardians Giovanni Battista and Angelo Favagrossa Molossi, since it threatened to fall down.

The present church, built by architect Boattini, retains a terracotta bas-relief originally placed in the chapel of the Annunciation.  Again housed in the church  are the works of art that were present in the old temple: The Immaculate by Malosso; San Francesco by Monti; Crocifissione e Sant’Anna con Maria e s. Bonaventura by Muzzi; Crucifixion and St. Anna with Maria and s. Gioacchino by Chiozzi; e Le Stimmate by Mastelletta; decorative frescoes by Zaist; a fourteenth-century fresco of St. Anne, the Virgin Mary and the Child; the old baptismal font of the lost church of San Giovanni Battista, the first parish of Casalmaggiore. 

Looking around…..

The old Public Palace (the City Hall) building began in 1720 in the same place where there was a lodge thought during the Venetian domination as a warehouse for the supplies that arrived here via Po before being traded inland Lombard, but never really used fot the purpose, because the surrounding land slided down. It unsafe until in 1891 they built the present Palace, in gothic, due to the generosity of the noble Leopoldo Molossi that dying in Milan in 1891 left the city his only heir; he tied a legacy of about a hundred thousand lire to the rebuilding of the Public Palace still unsafe. The new building was built following the project named Italia by architect Giacomo Misuraca of Palermo, with changes added by engineers Cesare Valenti and Cavour Beduschi. The total expenditure was of 161,643.90 pounds. The new City Hall still imposes its presence in the central Piazza Garibaldi, and has become the undisputed symbol of the city. It was inaugurated November 24, 1895. Inside are preserved ancient armor in the hallway of the main floor, where stands the Council Room, with coffered ceiling in wood and a large painting of the Oath of Pontida by Diotti; medallions of famous men of the city; John Baldesio framework of the seventeenth century; Deposition and St. Elizabeth of Giustina Ghislina (XVIII) century, Prudence and Justice

The bulk of the City Hall separates into two spaces a wide elliptical area that in the seventeenth century the Community acquired from the Royal Chamber. The greater part, the ancient Piazza Grande , is now Piazza Garibaldi. All around the central area are arranged columns and marble benches; a strip of marble that runs from one side of the ellipse is the plank , a meeting place, a Venetian reminiscence. Behind the Town Hall, the piazza Turati, small and quiet, almost in contact with the main bank of the river Po, commonly called the Old Square . 

Again, looking around….

Palazzo Camozzi, powerful and soberly elegant

Palazzo Mina-Tentolini, once one of the residences of the Counts Favagrossa, a neo classical, powerful and elegant construction, in via Favagrossa adjacent to the Duomo, shows two entrances, windows with decorative metopes and pediment with allegorical bas-relief; a closed garden, enclosed by walls with obelisks.  All of this forms the scenario very solemn, Canova style. Inside rich rooms with beautiful paintings by Natali, Alleati etc. The stucco on the facade seems to be attributed to Bossi and Giocondo Albertolli.  The local chronicles tell that the Palace hosted Philip V of Spain (1702) during a visit to his possessions, Carlo Emanuele of Sardinia (1733); Isabella of Bourbon (1760); Amalia of Austria (1769). A plaque on the facade, at the center of the balcony, commemorates the visit of Giuseppe Garibaldi to the city in 1862 and the plea to the people to gather volunteers for hismission, the cry of “Rome or Death”. Between the end of the ‘800 and the beginning of ‘900 it was turned into a college. It is now a private residence. 

And now, as the sky was darkening, it was time for the Diotti Museum…..


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Posted by on May 24, 2015 in Uncategorized



Quote of the week

“I can resist anything except temptation.”

(Oscar Wilde)


Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Uncategorized


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All by myself, ideal for new discoveries

You suddenly have a day all by yourself….your daughter has plans with her friends, and your husband is away for a football game. You ask your mom, but she’s busy with her sister, so….what to do? You have a few options, from ironing to watching tv, read a book or clean the windows….and then you remember that little city you’ve crossed so many times driving toward the river Po. You’ve read about a couple of interesting things to see there, so why not? Half an hour drive, and I was there, at Casalmaggiore.

Casalmaggiore is in the province of Cremona, Lombardy, located across the Po River. It was the birthplace of Italian composers Ignazio Donati and Andrea Zani. Archaeological findings in 1970 proved that the area was inhabited from the Bronze Age, although the town most likely was founded by the Romans as Castra Majora (“Main Military Camp”). Around the year 1000 it was a fortified castle in the House of Este lands; in the 15th century it was under the Republic of Venice. On July 2, 1754, it obtained the status of city with an imperial decree. After a period under the Austrians, it became part of the newly unified Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

My first stop was Palazzo Barnabiti – Holy Cross College; in the city center, near the City Hall stands the huge seventeenth century, majestic, solemn and compact palace built by the Barnabiti when they were called by the Municipality to manage the education of the local young people, as well as they did in several cities. It makes one single body with the building’s former Church of Santa Croce (who gave his name to the College located in the Palace), which looks out on Piazza Garibaldi, and its sacristy, now the headquarters of Pro Loco. The temple, of considerable size, was founded on the graves of the Old Castle. On the first floor of the church, abandoned in the past and used for various purposes, now is located the Auditorium, and a wide Civic Hall that the council uses for concerts, exhibitions and cultural events. The Palazzo Barnabiti – Holy Cross, after being used, until the early seventies, as seat of the High Schools, is now home to the Municipal Library Mortara, very rich in precious volumes and that has a fine old fund resulting from the collection of numerous libraries of the religious orders that in other cities escaped the requisitions made ​​by the central government after their suppression.

On the side of the building that looks out on Via Porzio there’s the entrance the Bijou Museum, which is unmatched in its kind in Italy: it collects artifacts in gold plated (the ‘fool’s gold of Casalmaggiore) produced by a factory in the town that still exists (but converted to other productions) that exported bijoux worldwide.

The Museo of Bijoux in Casalmaggiore was founded in 1986. Ten years later it was set up in the basement of the ex College of the Holy Cross. The collections are here exhibited in an area of 1 square chain, divided into three sections (the exhibited objects, the archives, the technologies).
The section of the exhibited objects consists of more than 20.000 pieces produced by the industries in Casalmaggiore between the end of the 19th century and 1970. Besides the traditional kinds of costume jewellery (brooches, cufflinks, bracelets, belts, earrings, pendants) you can find powder-cases, lipstick holders, cigarettes cases, sunglasses, devotional medals and badges.
It is possible to see demonstrations of goldsmith techniques and exercises, through which pupils can create simple handmade objects with metal of scant value. The didactic program can consist of several meetings with a multidisciplinary approach.         

I took so many photos, here is what I found more interesting…..hatpins….

women’s belt buckles………….

religious pendants……….


pins for cloak………

and bracelets.

When I visited the museum, in a renovated part of the place, there was another bijoux exhibition with some works of a very famous italian stylist, “Ornella Bijoux”

Founded in 1944 Ornella Bijoux is one of the most well known and prestigious brands in the world of  Haute Couture custom handmade jewellery: brooches,rings,parure and crowns are all preciously handmade,custom-fitted with artigianal ornaments.  Awarded with the title of “Bottega storica di Milano” ( a prestigious title given to Milan’s historical important companies existing still today), Maria Vittoria Albani, the founder and owner of Ornella Bijoux continues its tradition of made in Italy creations which are entirely designed and crafted by her. She is a very talented and creative woman who designes in her atelier, situated in the centre of Milan, using pearls, shiny metals, seashells, murano glass, vintage ceramic ornaments and Swarovski crystals to create unique custom jewellery pieces. Queens and movies stars of the past and actresses and models of today have worn and are wearing these personalised collections and limited samples.

I had all day for doing all I wanted, without people urging me to hurry up or to stop taking photos (a real bless!) and I took my time in the museum, deciding where to have lunch and what to do in the afternoon……Wanna know more? Stay tuned….


Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Uncategorized


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A cheesy omelette

Per 6 servings

  • 6 eggs
  • 3 ½ oz Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 ¾ oz butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
Pour the gorgonzola in a small bowl to be put into a pan two-thirds full of water. Put everything over a low heat. Proceed with a traditional Baine Marie until the gorgonzola cheese is perfectly melted. The result must be a cream which you will make smooth using a wooden spoon. Separately beat the eggs with salt and pepper pour the mixture into a pan where half of the butter is already hazelnut. As soon as the edges start to clot, pour the gorgonzola cream in the centre. Amalgamate quickly. Brown one side. Put the omelette onto a plate. Cook the remaining butter until hazelnut and brown the omelette on the other side.
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Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Uncategorized