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. 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………….
pins for cloak………
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….