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The Ducal Museum of Antiques was founded in Parma in 1760 by Don Filippo Borbone in order to collect the remains which were brought to light during the excavations at Velleja (a small Roman town on the Apennines in the province of Piacenza). When the Duchy passed under the French rule, it was deprived of all its valuables, which were given back only after the Congress of Vienna. Under Marie Louise's government the Museum occupied its actual seat and was supplied with further purchases. After the Italian unification it became an important institute for paleontological studies and researches. The collections are now displayed on two floors; on the first floor there are the Velleja and other collections, while on the ground floor it is possible to visit the prehistoric age sections and the one relating to Parma and to territories around Parma during the Roman era.
Cathedral Dedicated to S. Maria Assunta
(St. Mary of the Assumption), the Cathedral of Parma represents one of the finest examples of the Romanesque style in the Po Valley. Time and men have considerably altered its structure and decoration, leaving several "traces of art". Situated outside the original town walls and started on the will of the antipope Cadalus towards the end of 1059, it was consecrated during the papacy of Pasquale II in 1106. In 1117 a violent earthquake shook the whole Po Valley and part of the building suffered serious damages. Consequent reconstructions and modifications were undertaken almost immediately. Today the facade appears with a saddle roof and is decorated with three rows of loggias. There are three portals, the main of the which was raised in 1281 by Giambono da Bissone. For the arched lintel he used a series of reliefs illustrating the months of the year, ascribed to the master sculptors who had previously carved the capitals of the nave. The main door (signed by its author in 1494) is due to the carver Luchino Bianchino, who executed it following the design of the side doors.
This museum has its seat in the Pilotta Palace (on the top floor) and it is entirely dedicated to Giambattista Bodoni's typographical work. In 1768 Bodoni was given the task of managing the royal printing house in Parma and he was able to change it into an international printing centre with extremely good technical results. The museum keeps a great deal of type blocks, punches, master copies, original dies, manuscripts and tools for a total amount of 80.000 pieces. The collection also includes the alphabet boxes of the Royal Printing House, which are still used nowadays when printing books of particular worth. The most valuable work, considering the scarcity of its editions and the date of its publication, is the Greek version of the Book of Iliad dating to 1808.
Chinese and Ethnological Museum
It was Guido Maria Conforti, bishop of Parma, who planned this collection. He established the rule that missionaries had to return from mission lands with various local objects, in order to promulgate the culture of the many countries in which the missions were active as well as to teach the new missionaries. The collection considerably increased thanks to many donated objects coming from China, Oceania, Africa, Pakistan, Japan, and South America. Among the bronzes are vases, mirrors, portraits and little statues ranging from 11th century B.C. to 13th century A.C.: the ceramics include two vases of the Pan Shan dynasty dating to the third milenium B.C. and a funeral terracotta featuring a tortoise and a snake and dating to 200 A.C. The precious pieces of porcelain range from the last milenium of the Hu-Suan-Te period (1426-35) to the Kang-Shi period (1662-1722). Among the paintings are several portraits and works of the painter Huang Ch'uan, which date to 2nd century B.C.; noteworthy are also the representations of landscapes, flowers and birds. Numerous are the artifacts (ivories, jades, stone and wooden sculptures, amulets and pieces of enamels). The museum also contains a collection of 8450 coins (from 13th century B.C. to 1911) which is not open to the public. Extremely interesting and rich is the section dedicated to ethnological objects, which includes tools, weapons, instruments, prints and other handiworks of everyday life, collected in China, Japan, Indonesia, Oceania, Pakistan, Congo, Australia, South America and other countries all over the world.
Dukes' Palace and Park
The Dukes' Park offers visitors the view of secular trees which create an elaborated green architecture, planned and carried out in 1560 and enlarged in 18th century. Adorned with sculptures by G. B. Boudard, it was subsequently given a "French-style" arrangement. Inside the Park are: the old Dukes' Palace and the "Eucherio Sanvitale Palace". This moderately sized palazzetto is a fine example of Renaissance architecture in Parma, and it was built in 1520 by Giorgio da Erba. The building is a recent and historical discovery and its restoration has brought to light a fragment of the "Madonna with Child" by Parmigianino, and an oil wall painting portraying scenes from the life of the Virgin, attributed to a late-mannerist artist, the religious Cosimo Piazza. Noteworthy are also the grotesque paintings and landscapes dating to the last years of 16th century.
The seat of this museum has been since 1961 the Palazzo della Riserva (Reserve Palace), planned by Ennemond Petitot in 1764. Thanks to its founder, it houses and conserves a rich and artistic documentation about the Duchy of Parma from the first half of 18th century to the Italian unification, focusing particularly on the rule of Marie Louise of Austria (1816-1847). There are seven rooms which house the collection of works, furniture, the nuptial "corbeille" designed by Prud'hon in 1810 and given by Napoleon to the Duchess as a wedding gift. Watercolours by Naudin, engravings by P. Toschi and B. Bossi, jewelry, diaries, clothes and documents complete this 18th century collection.
Charterhouse of Parma
Founded in 1225 according to the last wishes of the Bishop of Spoleto, Rolando Taverna, it soon became part of the monastic order of the Chartusian monks, who lived here for 483 years. Subsequently the building housed a "modern" charitable institution for the needy: the Patrimony of the poor. After various affiliations (Dominicans, the Government Reformatory), since 1975 the building has been the seat of the Training and Refresher School of the Penitentiary Police. The Old Sacristy is wholly conserved. The architectonic complex was finally completed at the end of 15th century, when the actual "small cloister" (not open to the public) and the "big cloister" with the monastic cells were finished. In 1551 the building suffered a great damage and its restoration ended in 1658. Another important work was the one done by F. Pescaroli from Cremona, who incorporated the original Gothic Church into a Baroque one, which was never finished (1673 - 1722). The present facade of neoclassical style is due to A. Abbati (1847). Towards 1910 new modifications were carried out; among them the final destruction of the monastic cells. Nothing remains of the old medieval furnishings, while the Renaissance ones are still well conserved. Noteworthy are the frescoed or engraved altar pieces, the capitals and the altars, executed by Filippo Mazzola, G. A. Amadeo, I. Lombardo, G. Mazzola Bedoli, A. Bernabei, A. Baratta, P. Righini, A. Borra, D. Borra, F. Natali, G. Natali, S. Chiesa, G. Pelliccioli.
The building dates to 11th - 12th centuries, and it has been modified several times. The present-day appearance is the result of 20th century restoration that revived the medieval and Renaissance elements by eliminating the 18th century facelift. In the lower section a porticoed gallery is walled up and surmounted by two rows of arched three-light mullion windows. The inner courtyard was added in 16th century. Along the Bishop's Palace lane it is also possible to see the medieval parts of the city, such as the tower and the monumental entrance, made of squared stones. The building keeps works which belong to the Bishop's Court.
The theatre was planned and built by N. Bettoli between 1821 and 1829 on Marie Louise's commission. Its neo-classical facade is moved by a portico surmounted by two rows of windows. The decorations represent Fame and Lyre. The neo-classical atrium leads to an eliptic auditorium (whose gilt and white decorations were carried out by G. Magnani in 1853), accented by four rows of boxes and a gallery on the top. Extremely interesting is also the visit of the whole building, where several kinds of machinery, scenographies, rooms and ceilings can be seen. Noteworthy is the backcloth, decorated by G. B. Borghesi in 1824. The lamp was produced in Paris and weighs 1 ton. The theatre was inaugurated on 16th May 1829 with "Zaira", an opera by Vincenzo Bellini. After the recent works of maintenance, remains of the Romanesque period have been found; they can still be seen inside the building. In the course of its story, Teatro Regio has become one of the most famous opera houses in the world.
Church and Monastery of Saint John The Evangelist
The monastic complex of Saint John the Evangelist includes the Church, the Monastery and the Old San Giovanni Pharmacy. Its origins date to 10th century, even though its aspect is marked by a baroque facade. The bell tower on the right side was added in 1613. The Church, of classical aspect, has an original Romanesque structure (see for instance the pillars covered with grey stones and surmounted by capitals carved by Antonio da Parma). The architectonic design seems to derive from "suggestions" made by some humanists of the time (in particular Grapaldo, author of architecture handbooks). The Latin cross plan features a nave and two side aisles, punctuated by six chapels. The painted frieze, which runs along the nave and shows "Hebrew and Pagan sacrifice", based on Correggio's design, was executed by F. M. Rondani. Correggio also decorated the semi-pillars, the underarch of the fifth Chapel (with the representation of God in the centre and Saint Peter and Saint Andrew in the side panels), Saint Paul fallen off his horse, the cross-vault and finally the dome, with the Evangelist's Transit (1520-24). In the pendentives he painted the Church Fathers and the Evangelists. Also worthy of note in Saint John's Church are works by: Michelangelo Anselmi, G.B. Merano, the brothers Giacomo and Giulio Francia, C. Caselli, Gerolamo Mazzola Bedoli, C. Reggio, Antonio Bagarelli (author of the baked clay statues), Antonio da Parma, E. Taruffi., I. Martini, C. Aretusi.
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