Among the most artistic Marian sanctuaries in Italy, a monument of faith erected following a prodigious miracle, the Temple of the Blessed Virgin of Ghiara in Reggio Emilia boasts a majestic decoration result of the work of an élite of Emilian artists of the first half of the seventeenth century.
The project of the architect Alessandro Balbo from Ferrara was then executed by the Reggiano Francesco Pacchioni, assisted for the construction of the dome by Cosimo Pugliani.
Frescoed in 1614 by Lionello Spada, a pupil of Carracci, who was inspired by the scriptures of the Old Testament and was able to show great qualities perspective, especially in the realization of angels, the decorative cycle of frescoes that adorns the vaults, the domes and the apse in very rich decorations, amplifies as in a sacred representation the image of the Blessed Virgin of Ghiara presented by the motto "Quem genuit adoravit".
It is the exaltation of Mary, which sums up the mystery of the covenant between God and his people.
Guercino’s masterpiece "the Crucifixion of Christ, with at his feet Our Lady and Saints Mary Magdalene, Saint John and St. Prospero" makes the altarpiece of the Altar of the City the artist’s greatest work on his return from Rome.
To personalize the visit, is available the App "Arte e biblica nella Basilica della Ghiara", which dialogues with the QR codes inside the basilica, providing historical, artistic and theological insights of the work.
To admire "The Last Judgment" by Camillo Procaccini (1558ca -1629) you have to go through the door of the Basilica of San Prospero in Reggio Emilia and look at the pictorial cycle of the presbytery and apse.
The Bolognese artist skillfully depicts in the church dedicated to the patron saint of the city and located in the heart of the historic center, the day of the supreme judgment of Christ, located at the highest point of the apsidal basin, which resolutely, but laden with human piety, invites souls to ascend, surrounded by angels and saints of paradise.
The Apostles Andrew and Peter are not lacking, and then the evangelists, the patron saints of the city and other figures are arranged according to precise hierarchies. Then the resurrected, who emerge from the burials turned towards the sky.
The atmosphere changes in the representation of the damned who sink into the flames of hell, between blinding flashes, backlight, vapors, and the impressive figure of the devil.
Other scenes characterize the artwork, such as the representation of the dead Christ in the tomb and then in the vault of the presbytery the creation of Eve and the Apocalypse.
To complete the cycle of frescoes of the apsidal basin, the two biblical stories: the fall of Jetzabel and the resurrection of the widow’s son in Naim.
The artwork marks the end of Mannerism in Reggio Emilia and the arrival of the innovations of Caracci painting.
Called the "Little Ghiara", the Church of San Giovannino in Reggio Emilia houses prestigious artworks and a splendid dome made by Sisto Badalocchio, which was inspired by the Ascension painted by Correggio in the Abbey of San Giovanni Evangelista in Parma.
The present structure dates back to the sixteenth century, although the first news of the church date back to the twelfth century.
In the early seventeenth century several artists, who later enriched the Basilica della Ghiara in Reggio Emilia, frescoed the Church of San Giovannino making it precious.
The dome has four windows and terracotta statues.
The frescoes made in 1613 represent a whirling of figures and clouds that look upwards, towards the "Return of Christ".
The vault of the central nave presents, enclosed in daring illusionistic perspectives of the Brescian Tommaso Sandrini, frescoes by Lorenzo Franchi, representing Saint John who writes the Apocalypse.
Antonio Allegri, known as Correggio, worked in Parma achieving three undisputed frescoes masterpieces of art history: the Chamber of Saint Paul (1519), the dome of San Giovanni Evangelista (1520-1524) and the dome of the Cathedral (1524-1530) "...the most beautiful of all, which are painted before and after" as Mengs affirmed in the eighteenth century.
The Camber of Saint Paul is part of the apartment of the Abbess Giovanna from Piacenza.
The ceiling, with an umbrella vault, was frescoed by Correggio with a brand new and original style that assumes the knowledge of the work of Mantegna in Mantua.
In the dome of Church of San Giovanni Evangelista in Parma he painted a beautiful fresco that shows Christ surrounded by the apostles.
The elderly Giovanni, the protagonist of the vision, at the base, is evidence of the skill shown by the painter in managing the figures in glimpse, here well exemplified in the architecture of clouds.
Impressing and among the most significant symbols of the Italian Capital of Culture 2020 + 2021, is the Cathedral of Parma.
Inside, Correggio depicts the Assumption of the Virgin in Heaven, with a new language, made of perspectives and glimpses that mark the transit between earth and sky in a vortex populated by clouds and light.
Composition and movement blend into a masterpiece of visual illusionism.
Correggio organized the painted space around a spiral of bodies in flight, never seen before, which seems to cancel the architecture to emphasise the characters, who, in balance, are released in the air.
At the centre, Christ comes down from the light with a plastic pose, very innovative for that period.
Three wise virgins and three foolish virgins is the majestic fresco of Parmigianino, datable to 1531-1539 and preserved in the vault of the presbytery of the basilica of St. Mary of Steccata in Parma.
The artist, who had worked for some years in Bologna, returned to his hometown to decorate the main apse of the new basilica, built in 1521 by Bernardino Zaccagni and his son Giovanni Francesco, with the contribution of Antonio da Sangallo the Younger for the design of the dome.
The basilica, whose central plan with a greek cross is inspired by Bramante, is a beautiful example of Renaissance church and is located in the central Via Garibaldi in Parma.
The name "Steccata" comes from the wooden fence (in italian "steccato") that protected the painting of the Breastfeeding Madonna, now placed above the high altar, venerated in the oratory that was here before the construction of the church.
The bright dome, was decorated by Bernardino Gatti, who painted the Assumption of Mary among a multitude of saints and patriarchs, while Christ descended towards her.
The masterpiece of Parmigianino on the large arch above the high altar stands out.
On the right he depicted the "Wise Virgins" with the lighted lamp and on the left the "Foolish Virgins" with the lamp off.
In the apse behind the high altar, the fresco dedicated to the Coronation of the Virgin was executed between 1541 and 1547 by Michelangelo Anselmi on cartoons by Giulio Romano.
A large dome frescoed by Pier Antonio Bernabei with his brother Alessandro and Giovanni Maria Conti della Camera between 1626 and 1629 overlooks the Church of Santa Maria del Quartiere, in the heart of the Oltretorrente Parmigiano.
The church, with a hexagonal plan and supported by arches and pillars, was so called because it was built near the district (in italian "quartiere") of a military garrison.
The splendid dome is one of the largest in Italy and its decoration, that reminds the Correggio for the multitude of figures and the crowd of the pasty clouds, represents the Paradise with the Trinity, Madonna, the apostles, the prophets and the saints.
The gaze is totally fascinated by the large octagonal dome frescoed by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, 1591 - 1666) and Morazzone (Pier Francesco Mazzucchelli, 1573 - 1626) in the Cathedral of Piacenza.
Here the figures of the prophets are delineated, suspended in the clouds carrying cartouches and with the face turned upwards, towards the divinity. They are David, Isaiah, Haggai, Hosea, Zechariah, Ezekiel, Micah and Jeremiah, each enclosed in his own sail.
Initially the work was commissioned in 1625 to Morazzone, but the Lombard artist died after finishing the sails of David and Isaiah.
The following year the work was assigned to Guercino, who realized between 1626 and 1627 the other six sails and also frescoed the lunettes, where you can observe four episodes of the infancy of Jesus - the announcement to the shepherds, the adoration of the shepherds, the presentation to the temple and the flight to Egypt - and four representations of sibyls, in an ideal dialogue with the prophets for the similar task of predicting the future.
In Piazza Cavalli di Piacenza stands the Church of San Francesco.
Built between 1278 and 1363 by the Ghibelline Umbertino Landi, it is in Lombard Gothic style with terracotta facade.
The facade has two buttresses, rose window, cusp and spires, as well as a mid-fifteenth-century portal, and on the sides powerful arches rampant.
On the right side is the cloister, of which there is only one porch.
The church preserves burials of illustrious men, paintings, sculptures and remains of frescoes of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
Note the sculpture placed in the lunette of the portal, with the Stigmate of San Francesco (about 1480).
The dome of the chapel of the Immaculate Conception, with its grandiose altarpiece, is frescoed by Giovanni Battista Trotti called "The Malosso" (1597), for whose commission the Franciscans elaborated an original and curious iconography. The artist here depicts the Assumption into Heaven of the Virgin.
The interiors of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Campagna, embellished by the complex pictorial cycle of the dome created by Antonio Sacchi called "Pordenone", are amazing.
He was responsible for the depiction of Saint Augustine on the entrance wall and the works of the chapel of the Magi entirely frescoed by the artist, as well as the subsequent chapel of Saint Catherine.
The beautiful dome, whose frescoes were made by Pordenone and Bernardino Gatti called Soiaro in a period between 1530 and 1543, stands in the middle of the Greek cross and dominates the entire structure.
The lantern depicts God supported by a glory of angels from which descend characters and stories of Christianity.
Just below, in fact, open the eight segments and as many ribs of the dome populated with prophets and sibyls, putti, Old Testament characters and various symbols.
Immediately after you can see the frieze, where there are the heroes and the gods of classical antiquity, then the apostles, as pillars of the structure and finally the drum that illustrates some scenes from the life of Mary.
A masterpiece of Baroque art, the Church of San Cristoforo in Piacenza amazes with its dome, frescoed by Ferdinando Galli Bibbiena (1657-1743).
The artist was able to transfer perspective, the patrimony of mathematical and philosophical speculation, in the field of the practice of quadrature, drawing in the dome fake columns that support it, thus giving a feeling of spaces wider than they really are, a characteristic of the local baroque.
Considered a marvel of quadraturism and illusionistic painting, the dome has an umbrella roof with upper lantern with pilasters and rectangular openings.
The decoration brings out an effect of grandeur and spectacular artifice very particular, giving a celebratory and theatrical vision of great effect.
Today the building also houses the Little Poetry Museum, the first in Europe.