The Lands of Romagna in the Renaissance find their highest representation in the works of Marco Palmezzano (Forlì, 1459-1539) a "dear student" of Melozzo da Forlì. His paintings still fascinate today for their enameled and compact oil painting and for their scenographic backgrounds.
This itinerary leads you to discover his works scattered between Forlì, Forlimpopoli and Castrocaro Terme.
This itinerary to discover the most important Renaissance artist in Romagna starts from Forlì and more specifically from Piazza Guido Da Montefeltro, with a visit to the San Domenico Civic Museum.
The museum hosts fourteen artworks by Marco Palmezzano, such as the altarpiece of the “Annunciation” made for the Church of Carmine in Forlì. The painting depicts the meeting between the Archangel Gabriel, who holds out a flower, and the Virgin, who is holding a book, under a vaulted nave on breccia columns, opening onto a bright and dynamic landscape.
From the San Domenico Civic Museum we continue our itinerary walking through the alleys of the historical center and passing by the House owned by Palmezzano, at the corner between Corso Garibaldi and Via Albicini. We reach "Piazza del Duomo'' and we enter the Cathedral: in the Chapel of Sant'Anna, located along the left aisle, it is possible to admire "San Rocco", a painting by Palmezzano.
From Piazza del Duomo we take Via Maroncelli and then Via Episcopio Vecchio to visit the Church of San Biagio, built after the war on the foundations of the ancient Church of San Biagio in San Gerolamo, which was destroyed by a bombing on December 10, 1944. Inside the church, three works of art that escaped the bombing are still preserved: the Triptych by Palmezzano, Madonna on the Throne with Child and Saints, and the Immaculate Conception, a painting that Guido Reni probably painted in 1627.
Unfortunately, the famous frescoes painted together by Melozzo from Forlì and Palmezzano in the dome of the Feo Chapel have been lost. The chapel was commissioned by Caterina Sforza as a chapel for the family of her beloved Giacomo Feo, who was killed in 1495 and buried here.
From the Church of San Biagio, taking Via dei Mille and then Via Maroncelli, we arrive in Piazza Ordelaffi. From here we take Via delle Torri and we reach the central Piazza Saffi with the Abbey of San Mercuriale, a basilica of Romanesque-Lombard style built right in the heart of the city. Dedicated to Forlì's first bishop, it represents an outstanding example of a religious, artistic and civil monument.
The Abbey is surmounted by the imposing Lombard bell tower (over 70 meters high) and it contains some masterpieces of art, including some altarpieces by Marco Palmezzano, such as The Immaculate with the Eternal Father and Saints Anselm, Augustine and Stephen, preserved in a chapel richly decorated with wall paintings, terracotta bands and closed by a balustrade in Istrian stone. Noteworthy is also the other altarpiece Madonna with Child and Saints John the Evangelist and Catherine of Alexandria.
After visiting the Abbey, we can continue walking along Corso Diaz, towards Porta Ravaldino, and we reach the Church of Sant'Antonio Abate in Ravaldino: it has an octagonal plan and in its crypt there is a valuable painting by Marco Palmezzano, The Visitation.
The next stop is Forlimpopoli, a small town located along the Via Emilia between Forlì and Cesena and internationally known as the homeland of the great scholar and gastronome Pellegrino Artusi, considered the father of Italian cuisine thanks to his work "Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well".
Here it is worth visiting the Church of Santa Maria dei Servi: it was built in the second half of the 15th century by the Fathers of the Order of the Servants of Mary and it was provided over time with a rich decoration until it was abandoned in 1797, after the Napoleonic suppressions. The interior of the church is still surprising for the richness of its decorations: along the walls there are six altars adorned with stuccoes and valuable works of art, among which stands out the presence of the altar of the Annunciation with the homonymous altarpiece painted in tempera on wooden panel, made by Palmezzano in 1533. This Annunciation differs in style, appearing here simple and without decorative elements, compared to the two previous versions of the same subject preserved at the San Domenico Civic Museum.
The last stop on the itinerary is Castrocaro Terme, a popular holiday resort and important thermal center, located 10 km away from Forlì, on the road that connects Ravenna to Florence. The itinerary to discover the painter from Forlì brings us here to visit the Church of Saints Nicolò and Francesco: dating back to 1398 and radically restructured in 1520, it originally belonged to the Franciscan Convent, then in 1783, after the abolition of the Convent of the Friars Minor, it was taken over by the Parish.
The interior is divided into three naves and at the center of the apse there is the painting The Blessed Virgin with Saints Augustine and Anthony of Padua, painted in 1500, which represents the Blessed Virgin on a throne breast-feeding the child, between Saints Augustine and Anthony from Padua.
Saint Augustine is dressed as a bishop with the mitre on his head, he holds a voluminous book in his left hand and the pastoral staff in his right; Saint Anthony from Padua wears the Franciscan habit and holds a closed red book in his hand.