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Castiglione Olona (Varese): Villa Church

Foto Villa Church
Foto Villa Church
Foto Villa Church
Foto Villa Church
Foto Villa Church
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Places  of historical value  of artistic value around Milan (Italy): Villa ChurchThe other great treasure of Renaissance art in the village of Castiglione Olona, after the Collegiata, is the Church of the Most Holy Body of Christ, better known as the Villa Church.
Built between 1437 and 1444 at the behest of Cardinal Branda Castiglioni, it stands on the main square of the village, at the foot of the climb that leads to the Collegiata and in front of the Branda Palace.
The designer is not known with certainty, but it is possible that the project was by Lorenzo Vecchietta, versatile artist also involved in the decoration of the apse of the Collegiata.

The architecture of the small church has many references to that of Brunelleschi (the great Florentine designer to whom we owe, in the Tuscan capital, the old sacristy of S. Lorenzo and the Pazzi Chapel), so much so that it can be considered the first building in Brunelleschi's style outside of Tuscany, as well as more generally the most precocious penetration of the first Florentine renaissance in Lombardy. The church, at the time of its construction, was so modern and its style so innovative that it remained misunderstood and isolated in the territory of Varese.

Innovatively renaissance are the central plan accompanied by the cubic volume (and in general the great simplicity and cleanliness of the structure), the gray-yellow two-tone, the fluted pilasters with Corinthian capitals, the frieze with putti carrying festooneds that runs along the entire perimeter of the church at the top of the walls.
Instead, the two colossal statues of Sant'Antonio Abate and San Cristoforo on the sides of the main door represent a tribute to popular devotion, while the presence of a tiburium (in turn surrounded by columns supporting an octagonal roof that protrudes from the tiburium itself) is a typically Lombard element.

Externally, the church is, as already mentioned, dominated by the presence, on the facade, of the two large statues of San Cristoforo and Sant'Antonio Abate, and by the division into vertical sections by pilasters. For the rest there are no other decorations, apart from those of the access doors.
The main door is surrounded by a carved stone frame with plant friezes, saints and the four Doctors of the Church on the architrave. Above it a large triangular tympanum containing a bas-relief of God the Father between two angels.

The interior of the church consists of a perfectly square hall surmounted by a hemispherical dome with oculi. All the connecting lines between the surfaces are underlined by parastades and frames.
On the bottom there is a large semicircular apse that occupies almost the entire width.
The back wall of the apse is frescoed with a velarium decorated with plant and floral motifs. For the rest, the church's surfaces are generally bare and lacking of any structural decorations.
On the left wall the funeral monument of the Renaissance jurist Guido da Castiglione is visible, while on the right wall there is a fifteenth-century votive fresco depicting a Madonna enthroned with the child between the saints Rocco and Sebastiano.
Furthermore there are six precious terracotta statues representing the Doctors of the Church and the Annunciation.
Finally, behind the altar a small fresco depicting the Resurrection.

Categories: Places of historical value of artistic value


Piazza Garibaldi, 6, 21043 Castiglione Olona VA
Foto aggiuntive della Chiesa di Villa nella sezione Fotografia
Castiglione Olona (Varese): Interior of the Villa Church
Castiglione Olona (Varese): Votive fresco in the Villa Church