Chapter 14

The origin of our home and our frescoes.

I have always wondered what was the origin of my father’s home where we have been living and where we had our wedding party 30 years ago, in 1990. I never believed that things happen without a reason, on the contrary I do believe everything happens for a specific reason. In 2005, after my Father and my Grandmother Alda passed away, my husband Jacques and I decided to restore the Reception Room tempera painted ceiling from 1800, a copy of the well-known “L’Aurora – The Dawn” by Guido Reni and that became the beginning of an unforgettable experience. The Fine Arts experts discovered our walls were covered with original frescoes and dated them to 1600. What an astonishment for us all! They worked for more than six months to bring them back to their natural and unspoiled beauty which had remained unchanged over the centuries In the past weeks of this 2020, I have felt an urgent need of learning more about this home, especially with regards to the frescoes we discovered after my father Carlo and grandmother Alda passed away in 2004. The reason being an urgent desire to move towards one specific direction: was it really 1600 the date of built of our home? .It’s strange and bizarre but every time, I feel it in and within myself that I had to search further. There were coincidences. Each time there are coincidences. End of December an old friend of mine, historian and fond of art history, visited me, asking for some info about my family for a research. Since then, we have been talking and researching, meeting and researching. Mistake and miscalculations were made until last week. when she offered me the book “La grottesca” by André Chastel, Ed Einaudi.

Note 1. The Book, image of a grottesca (left) that I believe is similar similar to ours (right)

In the past we were told our home dated back to early 1600 but my friend was intrigued and much interested in our frescoes and definitely stated they date back to early 1500, maybe even end of 1400. The decors called “candelabra”, part of “grottesca” were used in the 1400 and 1500 and that was definitely a sign! I spent a couple of days reading the book and some articles on the net, especially researching about the 12 persons in the “fresco lunette” ( the oval spaces where each person is) and I found evidences that in 1400 and 1500 they represented each month of the year. I found the evidence in two churches, one in Piedmont and one in Lombardy near Lecco. In one Church, the one of Fara Novarese, the drawing, the style and the colours are absolutely similar and it is striking!

Note 2: on top details of one of our 12 people representing each month , below the “cycle of months” in the Church of Fara Novarese ( Novara)

I thought that it was strange that such a “cycle of months” was represented in a normal house, so I researched and found an evidence of similarity with a Monastery in Astino ( Bergamo) where the structural shape was absolutely identical to ours. That was an incredible find because this was the Refectory of a Monastery! In the past days, my friend said that it could have been a refectory, but I needed evidence for that. I found out that the architectural structure and the height were absolutely identical. I always wondered why our breakfast and reception room was so high, not normal for a home, also the adjacent room we don’t use has the same height and I knew there should have been a specific usage for these rooms. So the theory I am submitting to some experts now is that the adjacent room was the kitchen for the Refectory, as a matter of fact there is still a door connecting the two spaces.

Note 3: on top the Refectory of Astino near Bergamo, below our Breakfast and reception room.

Note 4: on top room with fireplace at Padernello Castle, below our room which I suppose was the kitchen

More evidences in the past two days. I have been visiting the Castle in Padernello ( Brescia) which is one of our favourite visits and found rooms identical in structural shape to ours. The castle was built end of 1400. I also found some maiolica ( varnished painted pottery) from the 15th century identical to the one we found when we re-did our home. I have researched on the net and it is typical red and green “maiolica” from the 15th century, very used in Refectories in middle Ages.

Note 5: on top our maiolica, below on the left maiolica at Padernello and and amphora dating around 1450 Another evidence I found on the net is the frescoes of the old “Sacristy or Vestry” of the old church of San Pietro which is located 30 metres (100 feet) from our home. These frescoes were done in 1522 and were part of the Sacristy of our St. Peter’s Church. The present Church is not that one though, it was built around 1750.

Note 6: info about the frescoes painted in 1522 in the old Sacristy of the old Church of San Pietro.

My idea is that our home was part of a Monastery Complex which included the Church prior to the present St Peter’s Church and the Sacristy with frescoes from 1522. Between the Church and our home, there is the Cinema and Theatre “Gloria” built last century, between the cinema and our garden there is a small wall, therefore it is possible that what the cinema is now used to be a building in direct connection with our home. Furthermore, between the present Convent on the other side of our loggia where we park our cars and the cinema internal courtyard there is a connection and door. When I was small, I used that door many times when we were playing at the Nuns. This Convent is connected to my home and presents a loggia and very similar columns, therefore it is possible it was all part of the same complex: Church, Sacristy, present cinema, our home and the nun’s convent. I should also mention that a very well-known gentleman in town several times told my mom that there was an underground connection between our home and the Church. Unfortunately, at the time, I was too busy to spend time researching that! Another interesting fact is that Jacques and I chose the name San Pietro for our bed and breakfast, maybe because the Monastery during the Middle Ages was named Saint Peter’s Monastery “Monastero di San Pietro”? Well, I don’t have evidence of that, of course but I like to think that we didn’t name it without a reason. Jacques and I want are pursuing this search and have submitted the info and evidences I found to some local experts in order to determine its origin, I am pretty sure it will not be too far from the truth.