From museums to museum houses: cradles of art, faith and ideas

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According to collective imagination, museums are seen as a container of artworks that gives us the chance to plunge into the past. Very often though people do not pay attention to the origins of such cultural depots and they do not realize that those memories have made it to our time thanks to the willingness of academics and researchers, who spent a good part of their lives trying to create real itineraries made of artworks. This is the case of the collections kept at Museo delle Cappuccine of Bagnacavallo or the devotional ceramics at Museo di San Rocco in Fusignano. Besides these types of collections, there is another way to safeguard the past, which is not limited to objects or tangible evidence, but also preserves intangible values, related to people or events. 
An example of this type is Museo Baracca, which shows visitors the life of the sky hero. Another example is Casa Varoli, which gives life to a space full of creative spirit, and also Casa Museo di Vincenzo Monti, the place where the poet was born and lived, as well as being the place where he gave life to part of his literary work. 

To see the itinerary on Google maps, click here

  • Length
    48 hours
  • Interests
    Art & Culture
  • Target
    Tutti
  • First stop: Bagnacavallo Bagnacavallo

    Museo Civico delle Cappuccine

    The Order of the Cloistered Capuchin Sisters, in Bagnacavallo since the end of 18th century, stayed in this large convent until the end of the 1970s. With the disappearance of the religious institution, the Municipality bought the entire complex and converted it into a cultural centre for its citizens. So, after substantial restoration work, the ancient convent hosted initially the Taroni Library and then the first embryonic group of artworks which would become the Museo Civico delle Cappuccine in 2008.

    The exhibition is organized into different sections. The first part, hosted in the scenic Sala delle Capriate (Hall of Trusses) consists of a collection of ancient artworks, mainly paintings, which cover a time window stretching from the 13th century, with the Scuola Riminese’s fresco fragment representing the Franciscan St Lodovico da Tolosa, until the end of the 19th century. 

    Of deep historical-artistic interest is the section dedicated to modern and contemporary figurative arts, among which are two local artists: Edgardo Saporetti and Giuseppe Rambelli. The latter, a pupil of Giovanni Fattori, carried out most of his activities in Florence. 

    A common thread between the beginning of the 20th century and the period after the Second World War is the section dedicated to painter Enzo Morelli (1896-1976), pride of the Bagnacavallo art even if he mainly lived in Lombardy, where he worked and became famous. After the first group of his works was donated to the museum in 1977, a second and larger group arrived in 1986: around 20 paintings, several paper-on-canvas works, preparatory cartoons, more than 2,000 drawings and watercolour works, as well as the artist’s personal archive with a prized fund of bibliographic art. 

    Modern and contemporary art is located along a corridor which hosts a relevant collection of sculptures. Donated in 1976 by engineer and doctor from Faenza Mr. Vittorio Dal Borgo, it contains works in bronze, plaster, terracotta and marble made by some of the most famous sculptors of the 20th century, among which: a prized bronze head, Enfant juif by master sculptor Medardo Rosso and Giacomo Manzù’s bronze bas-relief showing the Deposition from the Cross

    Since 1990, the Gabinetto delle Stampe Antiche e Moderne (Cabinet of ancient and modern prints) displays a prized and significant donation of ancient prints donated to the Municipality by the collector from Parma but with Bagnacavallo origins, Mr. Emilio Ferroni. It is a very rich collection of graphic works (more than a thousand papers), from Dürer up to contemporary authors. Besides the Fondo Incisioni Contemporanee (Fund of contemporary incisions) contains a collection of around 11,000 papers received as a donation from individual authors. The museum has dedicated specific exhibitions to them. 

  • Second stop: Cotignola Cotignola

    Museo Civico Varoli

    An entire generation’s artists from our province met and trained in Master Luigi Varoli’s house in Cotignola. Still today these rooms take the visitor into the atmosphere of the artist’s house, inhabited by animal skulls, quiet puppets, plaster casts, musical instruments, masks, photos of the beginning of the 20th century, votive offerings, wooden crucifixes, ancient furniture and a little but precious library, where Depero Dinamo’s book is the highlight. 

    Its mysterious fascination extends to the lovely garden full of artefacts. Here it is possible to breathe that particular cultural climate that surrounded this extraordinary artist – a figure that was in a way isolated but rooted into his places of origin – through an itinerary that shows the different tensions of his poetics. 

    Here Varoli knew how to spread his passion and curiosity: his pedagogical vocation and generous energy, which characterized his personality, transformed this house into a point of reference for many artists such as Umberto Folli, Giulio Ruffini, Gaetano Guerrini, Aristodemo Liverani, Ettore and Domenico Panighi, Giovanni Savini, Olga Settembrini, Renzo Morandi, musician Genunzio Ghetti and many others. 

    These rooms were also a favourable context for the political debate: new ideas and desire for freedom were among the favourite topics. It is not a coincidence that during the dark years of the Fascist government’s racial laws, many Jews saved their lives inside these walls. Master Varoli’s heroic gesture, symbolizing civil and humanitarian engagement, allowed him to receive the title of Just among Nations

    An artist with great human sensitivity, he played the important role of “preserver of the community’s memories”: in his house and yard he collected and protected works of art, furniture, common-use objects and archaeological findings. Some of them are kept today in the new municipal archaeological room. 

    Right in front of Casa Varoli, on the first floor of Palazzo Sforza, the Municipality of Cotignola created the Museo Varoli, which displays the work left by the Master. 

  • Third stop: Lugo Lugo

    Museo Baracca

    The Museum is located in the ancient mansion of Francesco Baracca’s family in Lugo: a palace that was refurbished in 1916, according to that eclectic style, contaminated by Liberty details that were very popular at that time – on the cornice there are many decorative elements, crowns with festoons showing the words “W Trento e Trieste” and bas-relief garlands between the rectangular window-doors with Liberty iron balustrades. A band of enamelled ceramic tiles introduces the bracketed cornice. The new museum setup, from 2015, is enriched by documents, relics, furniture and artefacts that narrate the human story of this hero of the skies.

    The ground floor is almost fully dedicated to technical topics: at the centre of the narration is the main museum attraction, Baracca’s plane, SPAD VII S2489, of French manufacturing (1917) in such a position as to evoke the idea of flying. On the walls two sentences taken from the Hero’s epistolary of 1912 seem to detach from the wall and fly around: one recalls the wonders of flying, the other prophesies the glorious future of aviation. There are also some finds of knocked-down planes, chosen by Baracca as examples of the most modern technologies of the time.  

    On the first floor, the focus is on Baracca’s legend, shown through letters, newspapers and several publications. Then the exhibition continues with the Hero’s private life, with the reconstruction of his bedroom, some of his personal objects, such as his medal collection, some certificates and acknowledgements from 1915-1918, together with the words that Gabriele D’Annunzio pronounced by his coffin.  

    The last floor is dedicated to the Great War propaganda postcards (“Baldini’s Collection, donated) and in a small room there is the reproduction of a trench with the Infantry and Austrian artillery’s equipment, together with artefacts from the First World War, such as helmets, rifles, machine guns…

    The city dedicates to Baracca an itinerary which starts from the Museum, then continues to Monumento all’Eroe (Monument to the Hero), designed and made by the sculptor from Faenza Domenico Rambelli, considered as one of the main expressions of Italian sculpture of the 20th century and finishes at the city cemetery with the grave chapel, decorated by Roberto Sella from Lugo. Inside the chapel it is possible to admire the majestic sarcophagus cast with Austrian cannon bronze from Carso.

  • Fourth stop: Fusignano Fusignano

    Museo Civico San Rocco

    Turned into a Museum by the Municipal Administration of Fusignano in 2001, the “San Rocco” complex, which has been the headquarters of the Municipal Administration for several years, was a place which hosted important meetings and exhibitions.

    The building dates back to the 16th century. It was built as Hospitale dè Pellegrini and then it changed its name into Ospedale dei Poveri Infermi. It underwent a long and complete restoration. On the ground floor it hosts the beautiful and rich permanent collection of devotional ceramics donated by prof. Sergio Baroni to the Municipality, in memory of his parents. It is a precious and unique collection of more than 200 pieces, which result from the collaboration between a collector like Vincenzo Baroni (the donor’s father) and a refined researcher like Monsignor Antonio Savioli from Fusignano, who passed away in 1999 and who dedicated a long time to studying the Marian iconography on Romagna devotional ceramics. The two of them were united by a close friendship and mutual appreciation.

    They represent a complex and rich source of information to reconstruct the history of popular devotion, from the 16th till the end of the 20th century. Characterized by different shapes and dimensions, the ceramics are a figurative expression of the religious popular culture, both from Emilia-Romagna and other Italian regions. Traditionally the plates were walled up above the entrance door, especially in the countryside, to ask Mary and other Saints to protect the house. 

    On the Museum first floor, in 2019 a new exhibition was inaugurated: a journey across the history of Fusignano. The exhibition is curated by architect Antonio Ravalli and it aims to narrate the origins and the growth of the town through meaningful images and objects. 

  • Fifth stop: Alfonsine Alfonsine

    Casa Vincenzo Monti

    In via Passetto rises a palace surrounded by the countryside in Alfonsine: built by Matteo Tamburini, in 1737 it was bought by Fedele Monti, the father of poet Vincenzo who was born here. The Monti family kept it until 1914.

    The house is inevitably connected to Vincenzo Monti’s destiny (1754-1828); high representative of Italian Neoclassicism, translator of Homer and Voltaire, researcher and reformer of the Italian language, an all-round man of culture who lived in a historical time shaken by exceptional political events (the French revolution, the arrival in Italy of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Restoration…) and who represented the ongoing transformations with his words and thoughts. He was an intellectual and dear friend of Foscolo, admired by Manzoni and Leopardi, he attended the literary salons of Rome, Milan, Paris and became Professor of Eloquence at the University of Pavia. 

    The museum tour develops on the main floor. The first room, so-called “cradle room”, displays some original furniture, among which the cradle of the poet’s family stands out. The tour continues with the document room, with a collection of original editions of the poet’s work, which show his career, from the so-called Roman time to the Napoleonic time. These are rare, very limited editions. Among the most interesting works is the famous Bassvilliana, a little poem, composed in 1793, four lyrics in Dante’s tercets which are so refined and elegant that some critics of the time defined Monti as “revived Dante”.

    The same room contains some copies of letters exchanged between Monti and a young Manzoni and Leopardi, as well as diplomas and acknowledgements given to the poet by the most famous Italian Literary Academies. The tour continues with Sala Montiana. Set up in 1928 on the occasion of the first centenary of the poet’s death, it represents the core of the Museum: at its centre rises, today like in 1928, the precious marble bust made by Cincinnato Baruzzi, while the decorations are by the painter Marcello Mariani, from Alfonsine. On the walls are some festoons with the titles of the main Monti’s works; on the ceiling are the words of the epitaph written by Manzoni. 

Last update 05/09/2021

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