The second guided tour followed the Farnese steps inside the Ducale Gardens and outside its gates…….Our first destination was Palazzetto Eucherio Sanvitale, located not far from Palazzo Ducale, among trees and bushes..
The Palace was designed in the early sixteenth century by the architect Giorgio da Erba and it’s supposed to have been commissioned by Monsignor Benedetto Accolti for the monks of the Monastery of St. Michael Bosco. The palace became soon after a property of the Sanvitale family from Fontanellato for its heir Eucherio, but in the mid-sixteenth century Eucherio was elected Bishop of Viviers, in France, so he sold the casino and the surrounding land to Ottavio Farnese.
The building, traditionally attributed to Giorgio da Erba and Gian Francesco d’Agrate , is rather modest in size and spread over a plant to H, with four corner towers that, at the front, are connected by a loggia with five arches. Above the entrance is engraved the epigraph “DII FACIENTES ADIUVANT” latin for “gods help the hard-working ones”……….Ironic, considering the casino was bought as a place for pleasures….
The windows are decorated with carved jambs adorned with flowers and ribbons.
Inside the rooms were painted by various artists, some frescoes by an anonymous artist of the school of Bertoja or Giovanni Baglione. In the Central Hall, with a pavilion vault, there are frescoes rather spoiled: among them recognizable are seascapes and mountains, birds and grotesque.
The adjacent Hall of the Velario is covered by an umbrella vault decorated with a veil, which is kind of a tent, decorated with classical figures of grotesques.
On the west wall there’s a Madonna and Child attributed to a young Parmigianino….can you see a little, curly boy?…..The diatribe on its truthfulness is still open among experts…
The Chapel of the Virgin is painted with scenes from the life of the Virgin, from the writings of the capuchin friar Paolo Piazza, and decorated by the painter Cosimo da Castelfranco This environment is part of the spiritual and religious function to which Ranuccio I Farnese destined the building in the seventeenth century..
The Hall of the Pergola, in the umbrella vault presents a breakthrough prospective, with the representation of just a pergola, and the walls painted with landscapes scenaries, give the impression to be outside…
Our guide was so very ready to explain us what we were seeing and to answer all the questions we had. Once outside in the garden again, we passed under the oldest (and the only one at that time) gate……..
The Church we were going to visit was still closed, and while waiting for the keeper with the keys, we had a little coffee break….
Finally we were able to start the visit…..and the short wait was so worth it!!
The church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in the district “Oltretorrente” in Parma, was built from 1617. The foundation stone of the oratory of Santa Maria delle Grazie was laid on 1 June 1617 in the presence of the Duke Ranuccio I Farnese and the bishop of Parma Pompeo Cornazzani: the building was designed as the headquarters of the Brotherhood of the Stigmata of St. Francis, formed by secular Franciscan tertiary and linked to the Roman congregation of Santa Maria Wailing, and was intended to accommodate a venerated image of the Virgin of the Aid (called of the Graces). The temple had to be already complete in 1621 when, with a solemn procession, the Brotherhood of the Stigmata took possession of it, transporting there the painting of the Madonna delle Grazie.
The design of the church is attributed to Giovanni Battista Magnani, architect linked to the ducal court and that is in contact with the Brotherhood: the building of small size, is a central plan, with two side chapels and a large presbytery, which It opposes the semicircular area of the entrance. Already in 1644 the building was changed by the Roman architect Girolamo Rainaldi, which resulted in a new light source, adding a lantern with eight windows at the presbytery. In 1715, under the rule of Francesco Farnese and Dorotea Sofia of Neuburg, new restoration works began and was commissioned the painter Sebastiano Galeotti to fresco the dome with an Assumption inspired by the one Correggio Painted for the Cathedral; the pictorial decoration was completed in the same year with illisionistic painters Francesco and Lorenzo Natali works.
Noteworthy are also the sumptuous furnishings, an organ and two refined choir made of wood carved and gilded by a lombard craftsman Lombard in mid-seventeenth century ………….
and the great “glory”, a large carved wood frame and stucco ornament to place the image of the Virgo (early XVIII century), just above the altar…
If you get close and look carefully, you can see the painting is not really above the altar……
but at the back of it…..
You just have to turn around the altar, walk under a vaulted passage, and there you are, under the framed Madonna…………
From here you can have also anothe point of view of the inside of the Church………….
The church also keeps paintings of great value, such as “Madonna presenting the Infant Jesus to Saint Francis” (Antonio Savazzini) and the painting of the ‘‘ Guardian Angel slaying the demon “of Sixtus Badalocchio
It was just an amazing morning, lost in the past and in the splendor of old times….just one more time I fell in love with my hometown…………