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Castiglione Olona (Varese, Italy): Branda Palace

Foto Branda Palace
Foto Branda Palace
Foto Branda Palace
Foto Branda Palace
Foto Branda Palace
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Places  of historical value  of artistic value around Milan (Italy): Branda PalaceAnother Renaissance treasure of Castiglione Olona is the Branda Palace, a historic palace that belonged to Cardinal Branda Castiglioni and which overlooks the central square of the village.
The palace is composed of two distinct bodies arranged in L shape. The oldest part is of fourteenth-century origin and was enlarged and embellished by the will of the cardinal in the fifteenth century. It corresponds to the short arm of the L. The second part was built by Cardinal Branda Castiglioni in the first decades of the fifteenth century, and then changed widely over the course of the following centuries.
The two wings of the palace are connected by that part that includes the chapel on the ground floor and the Renaissance loggia on the upper floor (which was closed by windows in the nineteenth century).
On the death of Cardinal Branda, the palace passed to the heirs and the Castiglioni family remained the owner of the palace until the beginning of the sixteenth century. Subsequently, Palazzo Castiglioni changed several owners, until, in 1843, the Castiglioni family returned and began its restoration.
In 1980 a part of the complex was given to the Municipality, which used it as the seat of the Civic Museum.
Following the visit path of the museum, which is accessed not through the main door of the building, located in the long wing and above which there is the coat of arms of the Casiglioni family, but through the courtyard, the first room is the entrance hall, characterized by the presence of a large antique fireplace and a ceiling decorated with hanging capitals at the base of the arches of the vaults, one of which depicts the coat of arms of the family surmounted by the cardinal's insignia.
You then go up to the Renaissance Loggia (Fig. 5), on the walls of which the remains of renaissance frescoes attributed to Lorenzo di Pietro known as il Vecchietta can be recognized. The wooden ceiling, original from the 16th century, is decorated with wooden tablets depicting coats of arms of noble families of the area.
You then reach the Picture Gallery (Fig. 4), a hall on whose walls there are portraits of members of the Castiglioni family, painted in the 17th and 18th centuries. It should be remembered that in addition to Cardinal Branda, the Castiglioni family also includes among its members two popes and countless men of law and culture.
On the bottom there is a large Renaissance fireplace in sandstone surmounted by a baroque hood richly decorated with stuccos.
The current windows to the street, rectangular, are not the original ones (which were in Gothic style, with acute arches). Of the latter, however, the terracotta cornices on the outside are still partially visible.
On the other side, the Renaissance Loggia leads instead to the so-called Room of the Cardinal (Large Figure), perhaps for visitors the most striking room. Its walls are completely frescoed (frescoes probably made in 1423) on four bands. Starting from the top, the first band is decorated with panels, in which the coats of arms of the family alternated with vegetal elements populated by playing and singing putti. A second band, much larger than the others, shows on a red background a garden of fruit trees, flowers and aromatic and medicinal plants populated by playing putti. Around each trunk there is a scroll with mottos and teachings.
In the third band there is a painted tapestry on which there are, on a dark green background, grasses and plants of various kinds wrapped in cartouches containing Latin mottoes, teachings and maxims taken from works by classical Latin authors.
The lower part, finally, depicts a painted bench.
The most striking piece of furniture in the room is the so-called Bed of the Cardinal, a carved wooden canopy bed dating back to the 16th century (and which therefore in reality never belonged to Cardinal Branda). Then there is a rare wall fireplace from the fifteenth century. Also noteworthy is the gothic sandstone window that overlooks the entrance courtyard and next to which there is externally a faded Sforza coat of arms.
Next to the Cardinal's Chamber there is the so-called Small office room (Fig. 3). Two walls of it are occupied by a seventeenth century walnut cabinet very similar to a choir. On the back wall there is a large fresco called "Hungarian Landscape of Veszpréem", attributed to Masolino da Panicale and Lorenzo di Pietro called il Vecchietta, who would have painted it in 1435, and which shows a bird's eye view. Contrary to tradition, the landscape represented is not that of Veszpréem in Hungary, but an ideal landscape to symbolize the vastness of the cardinal's temporal and spiritual possessions.
Immediately below the ceiling there is a frieze decorated with cherubs and floral elements interspersed with coats of arms.
Also worthy of note are the two seventeenth-century globe maps, one geographical and one astronomical.
Returning to the ground floor, you finally arrive at the chapel, called "Cardinal Chapel of San Martin" (Fig. 2), actually dedicated to the Triumphant Church. The frescoes present in it were brought again to light only in 1982. Painted by Vecchietta between 1437 and 1439 they include a crucifixion above the small apse, on the opposite wall a "Triumphant Church", with a procession of important male characters of the church, a massacre of the Innocents at the round window, a female procession of women, virgins and martyrs led by Sant'Orsola, the four evangelists and their symbols on the cross vault. Unfortunately, the fresco on the external wall depicting Sanct Martin and the Poor has become almost invisible.

Categories: Places of historical value of artistic value

Via Mazzini, 23, Piazza G. Garibaldi, 21043 Castiglione Olona VA
Further pictures of Branda Palace in the section Photography
Castiglione Olona (Varese, Italy): Room of the Cardinal in Branda Palace
Castiglione Olona (Varese, Italy): Wall of the room of the Cardinal in Branda Palace
Castiglione Olona (Varese, Italy): Small office room in Branda Palace
Castiglione Olona (Varese, Italy): Sight from one of the windows of the great hall of Palace Branda
Castiglione Olona (Varese, Italy): Great hall of Palace Branda
Castiglione Olona (Varese, Italy): Renaissance fireplace with baroque hood in Palazzo Branda
Castiglione Olona (Varese, Italy): Renaissance frescoes in the room of the Cardinal in Branda Palace
Castiglione Olona (Varese, Italy): Interior of the loggia of Branda Palace