THE COURTYARD OF HONOUR DURING A CONCERT
"INVOCATO IL NOME
DI CUY PRONOME PORTO
IO PETRO ROSSO
FONDAY STA ROCHA
ALTIERA ET FELICE
M DE MAGIO QUARANTAOCTO
ERA IL CORSO CCCC
ET CUM DIVINO AIUTO
AVANTI CHEL SEXANTA
This is without doubt the most spectacular, best built and most frequently
visited castle in the province of Parma and for this reason it is also
where many summer events take place, among them of course the
Torrechiara Festival. The manor lies at
278 m above sea level on a walled platform at the summit of a terraced,
cultivated hill on the left bank of the Parma river and on the
main road to Langhirano.
The first mention of the existence of a fortified structure at Torrechiara
only dates back to 1259 when the Mayor of Parma ordered its demolition
and, two years later, forbade its reconstruction. Nevertheless, the
current castle was built between 1448-60 by Pier Maria Rossi who succeeded
brilliantly in combining the defensive and residential buildings which
even today provide one of the most aesthetically pleasing experiences
in the area.
The rectangular plan, with four towers rising at the corners and linked
by crenellated dovetailed walls (one of the towers is double height
and dominates the others): creating a rectangular courtyard, the Courtyard
of Honour (length 26.55 m). An arched portico runs along one side with
cruciform vaulted ceiling and brick pillars, corresponding to those
in sandstone on the floor above.
Towards the end of the 16th century two large covered balconies
were added to the eastern façade giving it a vantage point over an extensive
panorama and adding to the chiaro/scuro of the archecture.
Inside there are many richly frescoed rooms.
St Nicomede Oratorio. According to chronicles, Bianca Pellegrini
and Pier Maria Rossi presided over functions from a small wooden dais
(now in the museum of Sforzesco Castle in Milan) and they are
supposed to be interred here: two memorial stones attest to the veracity
Jupiter Room (Sala di Giove). Frescoes by Cesare
Baglione (end of 16th century) with the figure of
the father of the gods on the ceiling together with cupids, scrolls
and architectural images. Naturalistic decoration of the 18th
century adorn the walls.
Trellis Room (Sala del pergolato). Cesare Baglione
painted a vine covered trellis on the ceiling and female figures on
the walls over which landscape scenes were painted in the 18th
Landscape Room (Sala dei paesaggi). On the walls are
ovals containing landscapes with depictions of castles and grotesque*
Victory Room (Sala della Vittoria). Victory in flight
in a small piece of sky in the middle of the ceiling. Other figures
are depicted within architectural features, linked by festoons.
Angel Room (Sala degli Angeli). The Sforza coat of arms
is in the flat centre of the cruciform vaulted ceiling, with angels
visible from balustrades between the corbels (supporting arches).
The lunettes depict birds and the coats of arms of the S. Fiora
Sforza and other linked families.
Curtain Room (Sala del Velario). A curtain is painted
in the flat centre of the ceiling and rows of garlands on the corbels.
Between the corbels and on the walls, in fan-shapes, are more grotesque*
Gallery with Coats of Arms (Salone degli Stemmi).
Vaults and lunettes with grotesque* images as well as coats of arms
of popes, sovereigns and noble families linked with Rossi and the
S Fiora Sforza families. In the dome, panels with angels.
Jugglers Hall (Salone dei Giocolieri). So called after
the Baglione fresco in which naked figures juggling hoops form a human
pyramid on the backs of lions in a splendid acrobatic display. There
is also a frieze of battle scenes and feminine figures. All the walls
have monochrome architectural and fantastical grotesque* images.
Golden Chamber (Camera d’Oro). Perhaps intended for
newlyweds or perhaps the castle’s chancellory (Pier Maria Rossi’s
will was almost certainly drawn up here) this is the most well known
and one of the best examples of a votive and erotic chamber (assuming
it was designed as such) in Italy. The series of frescoes is attrubuted
to the Benedetto Bembo school and shows a female figure (Bianca Pellegrini,
Pier Maria Rossi’s lover) dressed as a pilgrim wandering through all
the Rossi estates, painted with great attention to detail (on the
ceiling in the spaces between arch supports are the properties in
the mountains, those of the hills and plains are in the lunettes).
The square tiles in four designs, covering much of the walls,
are especially noteworthy. A reproduction of this room was made by
Amedeo Bocchi and Daniele De Strobel to represent Emilia Romagna at
the first ethnography exhibition in Rome in 1911.
*grotesque here refers to a style of Roman painting discovered
in Grottoes, rather than paintings of ugly and unpleasant subjects.
by Sarah J Hyde -
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