Palazzo Madama, Torino, Italy

Palazzo Madama in Rome is the seat of the Senate of the Italian Republic. Palazzo Madama, the most ancient building in Turin, is right in the city centre. Having played a leading role in its history from Roman times through to the present day, it was declared a World Heritage Site with the other Residences of the House of Savoy in 1997.

It was built atop the ruins of the ancient baths of Nero, next to Piazza Navona. The terrain had been acquired in the Middle Ages by the monks of the Abbey of Farfa, who later ceded it to France.

The new building was begun at the end of the 15th century and completed in 1505, for the Medici family. It housed two Medici cardinals and cousins, Giovanni and Giulio, who both later became popes as Leo X and Clement VII, respectively. Catherine de’ Medici, Clement VII’s niece, also lived here before she was married to Henry, son of King Francis I of France in 1533. Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte, patron of the artist Caravaggio, lived there until his death in 1627.

The palace takes its name from Madama Margherita of Austria, illegitimate daughter of Emperor Charles V, who married another illegitimate son, Alessandro de’ Medici and, after his death, Ottavio Farnese. Thus part of the art collection of the Florentine Medici family was inherited by the Farnese family.

The early centuries of the Middle Ages are illustrated in the Mediaeval Stonework Collection on the moat level, with its sculptures, mosaics, and jewellery dating from the Later Antique period to the Romanesque. The fifteenth-century rooms on the ground floor contain paintings, sculptures, miniatures and precious objects from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, mainly from Piedmont. In the circular room in the Treasure Tower there is a selection of masterpieces, including the famous Portrait of a Man by Antonello da Messina. On the piano nobile, with its stunning array of Baroque stuccoes and frescoes, there is the modern picture gallery with works from the Savoy Collections and an important selection of furniture made by Piedmontese, Italian, and French master cabinetmakers. Lastly, the top floor houses the decorative arts collections, which are a key part of the museum’s assets, with majolica and porcelain, glasswork and ivories, fabrics and lace, jewellery and metals, as well as the stunning collection of gilded, painted and sgraffito glass, unrivalled in terms of its quantity and quality.

The current façade was built in the mid-1650s by both Cigoli and Paolo Maruccelli. The latter added the ornate cornice and whimsical decorative urns on the roof.

After the extinction of the Medici in 1743, the palace was handed over to the House of Lorraine and, later, to Pope Benedict XIV, who made it the seat of the Papal Government. In 1849, Pius IX moved here the Ministries of Finances and of the Public Debt, as well as the Papal Post Offices. In 1871, after the conquest of Rome by the newly formed Kingdom of Italy, the palazzo became the seat of the Senato del Regno.

The visit covers four floors, where the centuries-old story of its construction interacts with the collections of the Museo Civico d’Arte Antica, which have been here since 1934.

The classroom is a much smaller room than it looks on the TV, it is covered in red (previously it was blue for various reasons, all re-attached to the colors of the Savoy banner). Behind the seat of the Senate President there are two inscriptions on two rectangular plaques: one cites the form of government currently in force in Italy, namely the Republic; The other is much older and gives the words with which Vittorio Emanuele II commemorated the unity of Italy. The cupola ceiling is painted with a painted cloth, called the Velario, which contains the medallions with the effigies of four jurisprudents, the four civic virtues and the four capitals of the pre-kingdoms.

The hall is named after Caesar Maccari, who decorated it after winning a contest banned by the Ministry of Education in 1880. The decorations affect the ceiling in the form of four allegorical figures surrounding the central motif depicting a personification of triumphant Italy. The four medallions represent specifically trade and agriculture (industry), weapons, sciences and arts. Allegories are depicted in the form of naked and naked girls.

It is a large salon used for representation functions, created at the beginning of the thirties from the demolition of a dividing wall and provided with a modern style chest of drawers.

In the seventeenth-century frieze to the Buvette, figures of putti and lions prevail, and in the other there are female figures. The room is enriched by six historic frescoes.

It differs from the other in order not to have the usual Medici frieze, replaced, in the golden wooden ceiling with chest of drawers by an ostrich. Probably was chosen in honor of Margaret of Austria, for the game of words in French “Autriche” (Austria) and “autruche” (ostrich). There is also the possibility that this animal has been chosen as a heraldic symbol of speed and precedence, that is, of firmness and strength. It is, however, certain that the ostrich has been chosen by a Medici family who does not have religious positions in view of the crown that overwhelms the head of the animal.

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