camminacitta

 

The walk of the town walls

Stage 1 – From the churchyard of the Basilica of St. Paul to the Argenti Park

The Castle / Palazzo Pietrasanta (Pietrasanta Palace)Basilica di S. Paolo (St. Paul)The walls of Cantù*Porta Ferraia (Ferraia Gate) or Porta di San Paolo (Gate of Saint Paul)Provost House of S. Paolo (St. Paul)The platea magna*The GiubianaPorta di Campo Rotondo (Campo Rotondo Gate)*
castello

The Castle / Palazzo Pietrasanta (Pietrasanta Palace)

Information

Location: the ancient fortress of Cantù, later transformed into the Pietrasanta Palace, stood on an elevated position on the hill of San Paolo, next to the church of S. Paolo (St. Paul).

Access: due to its current state, the palace has been declared unfit for use, and therefore it is not open to visitors. However, in order to have an idea of the grandeur of the complex, it is possible to enter into the lower courtyard, accessible from the foot of via Carlo Annoni in the direction of Piazza Garibaldi.

Services: bus stops for urban and suburban routes in Piazza Parini; automated teller machines in Piazza Garibaldi and via Corbetta; Chemist’s in via Ariberto da Intimiano and via Matteotti.

Leisure and Food: bars, cafes and restaurants in the area; municipal gardens in via Dante (Parco Argenti) and via Roma (Parco Martiri delle Foibe).

Description

In the middle of the 10th century, after the invasion of the Hungarians, towns and villages of northern Italy were forced to equip themselves with fortifications: Cantù was no exception. There is evidence that a “castrum”, i.e. a fortified structure, was already present on the hill of San Paolo at the beginning of the 12th century (1101). Located at the top of a morainic relief, in a strategic position controlling the territory and the communication routes between Milan, Como and upper Brianza, this “castrum” was particularly important during the long fight that in the 12th-14th centuries saw the Communes of Como and Milan, and later their noble families, on opposite sides. From 14th and 15th century notarial documents it emerges that the fortress, in its lower part, was also used as a prison.

When in 1475 Cantù was given in fief to Francesco Pietrasanta by Galeazzo Maria Sforza, the castle became the family’s stronghold. Following the damage caused to the fortress in 1527 by Gian Giacomo De Medici, known as the Medeghino, the Pietrasantas rebuilt a palace on the same site, incorporating the remains of the previous construction, and made alterations to it several times to make it a sumptuous urban villa, as the original defensive function had been lost. The very simple front façade, which overlooks the present square, Piazza Garibaldi, shows an interesting portal with an ashlar decoration. Inside, the main hall is particularly worthy of note, with its neoclassical style decoration attributed to Giocondo Albertolli, and a Country dance scene at the centre of the ceiling ascribed to Andrea Appiani and – more likely, perhaps – to his school. Both works are deemed to date back to the very beginning of the nineteenth century. Between September and November 1784 the composer Domenico Cimarosa stayed at this palace as a guest of the Pietrasanta family. During this period he had a musical friendship with Cantù’s Antonia Mazzucchelli (known as the Mazzucchella) – a relationship perhaps not limited to music, of a kind he probably entertained with the noblewoman Margherita Argenti, too.

The villa was transferred from the Pietrasantas to the Salterio family, who purchased not only the castle but the adjacent buildings, too: one of the parts at the back was transformed into a spinning mill in 1837, while the lower part at one time hosted a historic restaurant named after Garibaldi. After being inherited by the Airaghi family, and later acquired by the Municipality, the complex is presently awaiting restoration  and cannot be visited.

The imposing walls which surround the entire complex were a home to precious hanging gardens, once places of delight, and now, they too, awaiting recovery.

Contacts

Municipality of Cantù – Ufficio Cultura (Department of Culture), Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

For further information:

Gruppo Arte e Cultura website

Cammino di San Pietro website

basilica S. Paolo

Basilica di S. Paolo (St. Paul)

Information

Location: the Basilica stands at the top of the hill of San Paolo, next to the Pietrasanta Palace, giving onto a panoramic parvis overlooking Piazza Garibaldi, the square below.

Access: access is usually through the side entrance on the left.

Paving: the parvis (“pasquèe” in local dialect) is cobbled; next to the side entrance a mosaic – again, cobbled – depicts a lamp with a burning flame. A stone tile strip borders the perimeter of the church, the parvis and the green flowerbed on the left side of the Basilica. The steps giving access to the main portal are in stone; the landing on the top of the staircase is made of stone slabs.

Architectural barriers: an 11-step staircase leads to the façade’s pronaos. The side entrance is preceded by an inner door opening outwards at the centre. When inside, one has to climb 5 steps in order to access the apse of the nave, and 3+2 steps to access the apses of the aisles.

Services: bus stops for urban and suburban routes in Piazza Parini; automated teller machines in Piazza Garibaldi and via Corbetta; Chemists in via Ariberto da Intimiano and  via Matteotti;

Leisure and food: bars, cafes and shops in the area; municipal gardens in via Dante (Parco Argenti) and via Roma (Parco Martiri delle Foibe).

Other information: the Basilica is usually open. For opening times, please see the contacts below. To the left of the Basilica stands the former Canons’ House. The small square was once overlooked by the Oratory of the Dead, which was later demolished when the Cemetery was moved next to the Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine dei Miracoli (Blessed Virgin of the Miracles) in the Napoleonic era.

Description

The Basilica of S. Paolo (St. Paul), with one nave and two aisles, was built on the hill which dominates the village of Cantù, most probably in the 11th century. On the outside of the church, some parts of the central apse of the original building remain, with decorations and hanging arches divided into five groups of pilaster strips; other arches are visible, too, on the façade above the porch portal, and a decoration runs along the profile of the roof. The bell tower, the town’s symbol, dates back to the end of the 11th century, and is inserted into the left aisle directly onto the façade. The bell tower – the lower part of which is made of squared stones and pebbles, while the upper part is made of bricks – is surmounted by a sixteenth century conical brick spire; the openings are slit windows and three rows of mullioned windows. The current appearance of the church is largely due to the alterations that took place in the second half of the sixteenth century, when Saint Charles Borromeo fostered its restoration in order to transfer the Collegiate Church from S. Vincenzo in Galliano (1582).

The façade is preceded by a seventeenth-century pronaos, the access to which is by an imposing staircase. On the northern side of the church (the left side, when looking at the façade), only a few spans remain of the 16th century portico with coupled columns which originally surrounded the building,

The interior is divided into a nave and two aisles, separated by gneiss columns. A brick vault replaced the original coffered ceiling in 1579 with regard to the aisles, and in  1674 with regard to the nave. The stained glass windows of the nave represent four saints of Cantù: Adeodatus, Ecclesius, Savinus and Manfred (Luigi Migliavacca, 1930); in the left aisle of the counter-façade a stained glass window is dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo. At the beginning of the left aisle (when entering), a niche houses a statue of Saint Apollonia, the town’s patron saint (her feast is celebrated on February 9th); one of her relics, transferred from the church of S. Maria (St. Mary) is preserved here. The next chapel, built in 1795 according to a design by Carlo Felice Soave, is neoclassical in style. It is called the Crucifix chapel because it contains a valuable sixteenth-century wooden crucifix which was originally in the Basilica of Galliano.

At the bottom of the left aisle is the chapel of the Holy Thorn; it was once dedicated to St. Joseph, as shown by the seventeenth century paintings on the walls depicting The Flight into Egypt and The Death of St. Joseph. The relic of the Holy Thorn, transferred from the church of S. Maria (St. Mary) which was attached to the Benedictine Monastery, is placed in the tabernacle of the altar, which is embellished by a themed twentieth century triptych created by the painter Luigi Migliavacca. Above it a valuable fifteenth century stained glass window depicts the Saints Peter and Paul. The chancel is dominated by the polychrome marble temple-shaped altar (1783) flanked by the bronze sculptures of St. Peter and St. Paul; Saint Paul in Glory (Francesco Verda, 1852) towers from the vault. The stained glass windows In the apse represent The Conversion of Saint Paul and The Martyrdom of the Saint (Luigi Migliavacca 1930). The Four Cardinal Virtues (1930) are depicted in the apse conch.

The chapel of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel opens at the end of the right aisle. As the tombstones on the walls record, it was restored in the first half of the seventeenth century thanks to the Argenti family. A number of works attributed to Giovanni Battista della Rovere (brother of the better known Giovanni Mauro, and both called the Fiammenghino) are preserved here. They depict, starting from the left, Saint Ursula (?), Saint Catherine of Alexandria (venerated in this chapel since 1610, as attested by the inscription below it), Saint Ambrose, Saint Agatha, and Saint Teresa of Ávila. Our Lady of Mount Carmel with Angels is painted on the vault, while two Prophets are represented on the lunette. This chapel hosts two more paintings the work of a different hand:  Our lady of Mount Carmel delivering the scapular to Saint Simon Stock (on the left wall), and Saint Charles (on the right wall). The two windows of this chapel are dedicated, respectively, to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and to Saint Aloysius Gonzaga.

It is worth mentioning that in the middle of the right aisle there is an altar surmounted by the reproduction of the Grotto of Lourdes, completed in 1897-98; two paintings follow, the first being The Conversion of St. Paul, attributed to Camillo Procaccini, and the second the seventeenth century painting of the Martyrdom of Saint Apollonia. The church of S. Paolo (St. Paul) was raised to the status of Minor Roman Basilica by Pius XII in 1950, due to the intervention of Cardinal Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster.

Contacts

Parish of S. Paolo – Secretary’s Office, via C. Annoni 3, Cantù; Tel. 031.701393; segreteria.sanpaolo@sanvincenzocantu.it;  http://sanvincenzocantu.it/comunita-pastorale/parrocchie/san-paolo/

Municipality of Cantù – Ufficio Cultura (Department of Culture), Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

For further information:

Comunità Pastorale “San Vincenzo” Cantù-Intimiano website

Comune di Cantù website

Gruppo Arte e Cultura website

Romanicomo website

Cammino di San Pietro website

Mura di Cantu

The walls of Cantù*

* buildings the most part of which have been lost

Description

A perimeter wall system had been gradually put into place around the “castrum” on the hill of San Paolo as far back as the end of the 11th century, probably also exploiting the natural barriers adjacent to the hill. In the subsequent centuries this system was redefined and expanded in relation to the increase in the population of the village due to the general economic boost that had peaked in the tenth century.

A document dated 1086 mentions a Porta Ruscana (Ruscana Gate) in the area of the Monastery of S. Maria (St. Mary). In 1222 the archbishop Enrico da Settala, banished from the Commune of Milan by the popular faction that was dominant at the time, found a safe-haven with his followers in Cantù, which must have offered a valid barrier of defense: in 1225 this led the noblemen of Milan, who had managed to defeat the faction, to grant the people of Cantù recognition as citizens of Milan. Other documents from 1253-1256 would also lead to believe that some sort of boundary walling existed in the area of Pianella.

When, in 1324, the two brothers Gaspare and Giovannolo Grassi proclaimed the independence of Cantù from Milan – as reported by Ludovico Muratori in the Annales Mediolanenses - they took care of the rebuilding of a mile-long section of the perimeter, providing it with «very large walls» and «thirty-five towers» to defend the village of Canturio from the nearby and powerful Milan. As Graziano Alfredo Vergani points out, it is likely that the work ordered by the Grassi brothers was limited to the mending and fixing of fortifications built in the previous centuries, giving shape to and defining a single settlement with Santa Maria and San Michele, two other areas that were inhabited in high medieval times.

The town walls, with the many towers and gates (at least five of which of medieval origin) which characterized them, must have represented for many centuries one of the main features of Cantù, which was often referred to as “the town of the hundred towers”. This urban structure is clear when looking at a plan of the village of Cantù and Galliano dating back to the second half of the sixteenth century, preserved in the Diocesan Archive of Milan.

In the early nineteenth century the old fortified system was still visible (albeit with the changes that occurred over the centuries); in 1835 the provost Carlo Annoni published a map of the walled town engraved by the Bramati brothers based on a drawing by Carlo Montanara, as a companion to his book Monumenti e fatti politici e religiosi del borgo di Canturio e sua pieve (Monuments and political and religious facts of the village of Canturio and its parish), where the exact locations of the gates and walls at the beginning of the nineteenth century are shown.

Most of the destruction of the wall system goes back to the second half of the nineteenth century, during the first urban planning interventions put into place after the unification of Italy: this caused the town to lose an immeasurable wealth of material sources, history, traditions, and collective identity.

Contacts

Municipality of Cantù – Ufficio Cultura (Department of Culture), Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

porta ferraia

Porta Ferraia (Ferraia Gate) or Porta di San Paolo (Gate of Saint Paul)

Information

Location: Porta Ferraia (Ferraia Gate), also known as Porta di San Paolo (Gate of Saint Paul), is inside the garden of the former Casa Scotti (Scotti House), which was previously part of the property of the Pietrasanta family, and, later, of the Archinto family, who have left us the beautiful seventeenth century portal with an ashlar cornice and their family crest.

Access: at present the gate is not visible, because it is inside a private property where building works are being carried out.

Services: bus stops for urban and suburban routes in Piazza Parini; automated teller machines in Piazza Garibaldi and via Corbetta; Chemist’s in via Ariberto da Intimiano and  via Matteotti;

Leisure and food: bars, cafes and shops in the area; municipal gardens in via Dante (Parco Argenti) and via Roma (Parco Martiri delle Foibe).

Description

The gate referred to as Porta di San Paolo (Gate of Saint Paul) in Carlo Montanara’s map published in 1835 by don Carlo Annoni is the only one still in existence along the eastern perimeter of the town walls. It is next to the oratory of the Blessed Virgin, a few dozen metres north of the Basilica of the same name. Nineteenth century sources indicate it as Porta Ferraia or Ferraria, in connection with the nearby Contrada della Ferraia, a quarter which nowadays corresponds to the area around Via Pietrasanta, which is south of the gate. The toponym of the quarter refers to the working of iron (ferro in Italian) in order to obtain agricultural tools and nails, a production already recorded in Cantù in ancient times. In fact, a document dated 907 gives evidence of the obligation undertaken by the brothers Godeperto and Orso, inhabitants of Galliano, to manufacture a certain number of sickles for the abbey of Nonantola (Province of Modena) every year. The gate, built to an irregular trapezoid plan, has been interpreted as being the base of a gate tower that opened into the town walls; the portal has a slightly lowered arch, framed by an archivolt made of square cut local stone. According to Graziano Alfredo Vergani, the author of a study on the stratigraphic units of the walls, the building would be the result of a long series of interventions and changes which continued for centuries, at least from the 11th-12th to the last century. However, no medieval or post-medieval documents mentioning it have been found.

Moreover, it is interesting to note that the Gate of San Paolo (Saint Paul) is not referred to as such in the cartography from the 16th century onwards, nor does the gate appear to be connected to a road leading out of or giving access to the town, although it is quite evident that it is positioned in the direction of the Galliano hill: it is a «Gate that does not lead anywhere». This would be explained by the progressive development of the village of Cantù, which started in the 13th century to the detriment of the settlement of Galliano, culminating in 1582 in the transfer of the function as a parish from S. Vincenzo (St. Vincent) to S. Paolo (St. Paul). This situation may have led to the loss of importance or even to the abandon of an ancient road link to this gate, a trace of which might be recognizable in the toponym Gallianello.

Contacts

Municipality of Cantù – Ufficio Cultura (Department of Culture), Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; E-mail cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

For further information:

Gruppo Arte e Cultura website

Cammino di San Pietro website

casa prepositurale

Provost House of S. Paolo (St. Paul)

Information

Location: the Provost House of S. Paolo (St. Paul) is at the foot of via Carlo Annoni, facing the oratory.

Access: access to the Secretary’s Office of the Parish is from the entrance on via Carlo Annoni at number 3. A few metres before this entrance (when following the direction of our path) another entrance leads to the Museum.

Paving: via Annoni is cobbled, with a stone tile strip (to the right when walking downwards); the steps of the two entrances are in stone slabs.

Architectural barriers: to access the Secretary’s Office of the Parish one must climb a step, the height of which varies according to the road’s slope. Please mind the small metal thresholds placed at each entrance.

Services: bus stops for urban and suburban routes in Piazza Parini; automated teller machines in Piazza Garibaldi and via Corbetta; Chemist’s in via Ariberto da Intimiano and  via Matteotti;

Leisure and food: bars, cafes and shops in the area; municipal gardens in via Dante (Parco Argenti) and via Roma (Parco Martiri delle Foibe).

Other information: the Secretary’s Office of the Parish of S. Paolo (St. Paul) is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:30 to 11:30; Tuesdays from 17:30 to 19:00; Thursdays from 16:00 to 18:00.

Description

The Provost House of S. Paolo (St. Paul)’s building is of ancient origin, but has been the subject of many alterations over the centuries. It appears nowadays as a city palace of the late 18th – early 19th century, with a large Renaissance style entrance portal and an internal portico that recalls 16th century Spanish style courtyards. During the latest restorations, completed in 2014, the lower part of a medieval tower made of large blocks of squared stone with brick inserts emerged on the corner between via Annoni and via Cimarosa,  confirming the antiquity of the core of the building.

After the restoration, a small museum collection was set up in the palace to preserve the history of faith and art of an entire parish. Precious cassocks, liturgical vestments, lace, tapestries, chalices, monstrances, reliquaries are exhibited. And so are rare missals, antiphonaries, prints, paintings and other objects of precious craftsmanship, as well as a relic of Saint Apollonia, the patron saint of Cantù.

In the context of the restoration work carried out in the Palace of the Provost of S. Paolo, the new location of the Provost’s Archive gained considerable importance. «The documentary value of the papers contained in the Archive is certainly not inferior to the numerous Papers of the Religion Fund of the Milan State Archive and of the Spiritual Archive of the Diocese of Milan. Due to the many documents that also refer to the history of the various religious buildings in the course of the last centuries of their life, the Archive of the Provost of San Paolo is a truly unique place of history and culture. Among the objectives that are to be vigorously pursued is the safeguard of this remarkable documentary heritage, the consistency of which amounts to at least three hundred envelopes and folders, with the presence of thousands of papers and documents that extend over a time span of at least 700 years» (G. Montorfano in http://sanvincenzocantu.it/museobeni-artistici/archivi-storici/).

Contacts

Parish of S. Paolo – Secretary’s Office, via C. Annoni 3 Cantù; Tel. 031.701393; segreteria.sanpaolo@sanvincenzocantu.it; http://sanvincenzocantu.it/comunita-pastorale/parrocchie/san-paolo/

For further information:

Comunità Pastorale “San Vincenzo” Cantù-Intimiano – Museo website

Comunità Pastorale “San Vincenzo” Cantù-Intimiano – Archivio website

area platea magna

The «platea magna»

Information

Location: the “platea magna” - Cantù’s public square in the Middle Ages – was probably located to the south-west of the present Piazza Garibaldi.

Description

In the Middle Ages Cantù had a public square, referred to as «platea magna» by don Carlo Annoni in his work Monumenti e fatti politici e religiosi del borgo di Canturio e sua pieve (Monuments and political and religious facts of the village of Canturio and its parish) (1835). It is here, in fact, that a trial for witchcraft is believed to have taken place in 1453 against Gualterium de Pellegrino from Como, «hereticum et strionissium», in the presence of the podesta of Cantù, Johannes Luchinus de Olzate. The trial ended with the former being condemned to the stake.

Probably the square was not in the same location where we now find Piazza Garibaldi. A plan of the village of Cantù and Galliano dating back to the second half of the sixteenth century, preserved in the Diocesan Archive of Milan, shows a very visible rectangular «piaca»at the centre of the village, positioned slightly more to the south west of Piazza Garibaldi. This was the point of convergence of the three roads that connected Cantù with the outside world: that coming from the Fontana Gate, that from the Campo Rotondo Gate and that from the Coldonico Gate.

By looking at the map of the “Theresian” Cadastre of 1722 one can see, on the other hand, that at least part of the square’s area was occupied by buildings and included in the system of the “Contrada delle Torri (Towers’ Quarter)”. In particular, on the site where a cafe-newsagent currently stands, both maps highlight the presence of the church of S. Cristoforo (St. Christopher, the patron saint of travellers). Founded by Alberto da Paratis in 1348, the church was a very important building as, in the 14th and 15th centuries, the communal assemblies of all the people of Cantù entitled to participate were held in the pronaos in front of it, or even inside the church itself. As can be inferred from the drawing commissioned by Saint Charles Borromeo in the sixteenth century, it had a nave, two aisles, and three chapels; it was destroyed by fire, and in the first half of the nineteenth century it was razed to the ground.

Contacts

Municipality of Cantù – Ufficio Cultura (Department of Culture), Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

rogo giubiana

The Giubiana

Description

On the last Thursday of January of every year a bonfire is prepared at the centre of the square, where a puppet of the “Giubiana”, a woman believed to be a traitor to the Commune of Cantù in favour of Como at the time of Frederick Barbarossa, is burned. In the past omens were drawn from the manner in which the fire burned whether the harvest would be good or not. The “Giubiana” feast is probably connected to an ancient seasonal cycle rebirth ceremony, a ritual linked to fire and light. For the occasion it is customary to have saffron risotto and “luganiga” (sausage) for dinner.

Contacts

Municipality of Cantù – Ufficio Cultura (Department of Culture), Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

area porta campo rotondo

Porta di Campo Rotondo (Campo Rotondo Gate)*

* lost building

Information

Location: Porta di Campo Rotondo (Campo Rotondo Gate) was probably located where the accesses opposite to numbers 10b and 5b on via Ariberto da Intimiano are now.

Description

Porta di Campo Rotondo (Campo Rotondo Gate), of medieval origin, opened into the eastern part of Cantu’s town walls at the southern foot of the hill of San Paolo where there was a residential quarter of that name. It gave access to the road called Strada de’Chiosi, which, bifurcating before the premises of the Domus Nova umiliata (Humiliati House) of San Giorgio (St. George), led to the north-east towards Galliano, and to the east towards Vighizzolo.

References to the gate can be found in a number of fourteenth century documents which mention the Humiliati House of San Giorgio in Cantù and state, in fact, that the latter was located outside the Campo Rotondo Gate. A deed by the Deputazione Comunale (a governing body similar to the Municipal Council) of Cantù, dated 29 August 1829, commissioned Enrico Vidario to take on the works to cover the Terrò stream, with the subsequent raising of the Cantù-Alzate road and the dismantling of the Campo Rotondo Gate, «to be demolished as it obstructs the free passage of the road, it prevents free ventilation and threatens to go into ruins»; the debris from the gate’s demolition was to be used for the other works mentioned above. Attached to this deed, a document offers us a description of how the «old gate of the former Castle of Cantù» must have been like, and another document provides a drawing of it. The gate consisted of two abutments surmounted by a pointed arch with a soprarco (i.e. the part between the top of the arch and the roof) covered by curved tiles; six iron hinges, which had become rusty by the time, were fixed to the abutments to support the door. The external part, above the arch, carried the remains of a painting representing the coat of arms of the Pietrasanta family, who had been feudal lords of Cantù; above the coat of arms there had been a triangular wall which had already been demolished in 1808. «The building to be pulled down is isolated, except for the left abutment, which serves as support and surround for Giovanni Tagliabue’s house, and must not be demolished from the springer to the foundations, as it is suspected to be attached to the House with two of the hooks that are inserted there».

Most likely, the width of the gate was 3.30 meters, the height of it at the top 4.80 metres, while the overall height of the building was 6.50 meters. The works were completed by February 1831, as can be inferred from an accompanying letter, although the “Borgo Campo Rotondo” Gate was still marked on Carlo Montanara’s map published in 1835 by don Carlo Annoni.

Contacts

Municipality of Cantù – Ufficio Cultura (Department of Culture), Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

Stage 2 – From the Argenti Park to the churchyard of the Basilica of St. Paul 

Porta Pianella (Pianella Gate)*Porta Fontana (Fontana Gate or Gate of the Fountain)*Contrada delle Torri (Towers’ Street)Church of S. Teodoro (St. Theodorus)Former Monastery and Church of St. Mary (S. Maria)Monastery* and former Saint Ambrose’s ChurchPusterla of Saint Ambrose (Ambrogio)* (Saint Ambrose’s secondary gate)Coldonico Gate or Saint Rocco’s Gate*
area porta pianella

Porta Pianella (Pianella Gate)*

*This building has disappeared

Information

Location: Pianella Gate probably stood in via dei Mille, a few meters after the crossing with the current via Malchi; this presumption is based on its location on the map by Carlo Montanara published in 1835 by the rev. Carlo Annoni.

Description

Pianella Gate, built during the Middle Ages, opened onto the northern part of the circle of walls of Cantù, in correspondence of the road to Intimiano. The toponym is documented in relation to some residences of the Umiliati friars in acts dating between 1253 and 1256: such toponyms, PIanella de intus e PIanella de foris suggest that a circle of walls, probably endowed with a gate, already existed seventy years before 1324, the same year when Gaspare Grassi refers that one mile of middle-age walls were built in Cantù.

Pianella Gate is mentioned in an act of August 11, 1445, by which the rev. Paolo de Castoldi, provost of the House of the Umiliated friars of San Giorgio of Cantù, charged a man, called Martino De Putheo, with the rent of some properties of the same House, placed in the territory of Cantù.

Contatti

Comune di Cantù – Ufficio Cultura, Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; E-mail cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

Area porta fontana

Porta Fontana (Fontana Gate or Gate of the Fountain)*

*lost building

Information

Location: Fontana Gate stood a few meters beyond the square of the same name (currently Piazza Sirtori), on the street now called via Daverio.

Description

Fontana Gate, built during the Middle Ages, opened onto the north-western part of the circle of walls of Cantù, on the ancient Via Canturina coming from Como.

The door is mentioned for the first time in an act of January 5th, 1353, by which Mazolo de Mantegazzi di Cantù, in the name and on behalf of his wife Margherita Grassi, rented to Lampardino Grassi, another citizen of the borough, a house, as well as another house in ruins annexed to the same, and a vegetable garden, all placed in Cantù, close by Fontana Gate, bordering, on their western side, the walls of the borough. The gate is also mentioned in other documents between the XV and XVIII centuries; the testament, dated in 1669, of the rev. Gerolamo Maruti, provost of S. Teodoro, mentions that at that time there were traces of a moat; during the middle ages this moat probably bordered the walled circle around the borough, at least on its western side. The Fontana Gate is also mentioned in the map published in 1835 by the rev. Carlo Annoni.

On April 6, 1592, the Dominican inquirer Pietro da Verona probably entered Cantù from this gate, coming from the convent of San Giovanni in Pedemonte in Como, on his way to Milan. On that very same day, the friar would have been killed near Seveso by mandate of the heretics Cathars Confalonieri from Giussano and Porro from Lentate; he was subsequently made Saint with the name of Saint Peter the Martyr.

Contatti

Comune di Cantù – Ufficio Cultura, Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; E-mail cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

contrada

Contrada delle Torri (Towers’ Street)

Information

Location: the Contrada delle Torri corresponds to the current via Corbetta, starting from Piazza Fontana, where the gate of the same name stood (in the current Piazza Sirtori), and to the surrounding streets.

Paving: via Corbetta is asphalted. The sidewalk on the left side coming from below is discontinuous: it is asphalted in the stretch aside the churchyard of S. Teodoro, then it stops and starts again in front of the palace where once Eugenio Corbetta lived (at street number 4), with porphyry cubes. On the right side the asphalted sidewalk is available coming from Piazza Fontana up to street number 11, as well as from the beginning of via Chiavelli up to Piazza Garibaldi.

Services: urban and extra-urban bus stops in via Volta and piazza Parini; ATM teller in Piazza Garibaldi and via Corbetta

Leisure and Food: bars and restaurants; shops; Municipal Theatre of Saint Teodoro in via Corbetta 7; public gardens in via Dante (Parco Argenti).

Description

Climbing on via Corbetta from Piazza Sirtori, some traces of a tower can be found on the side of the current bookbinding shop LegaLibri: its angular squared stones can still be recognised. The parish house of San Teodoro (first residence of the Pietrasanta family in Cantù, then home of the family Argenti), aside the church, also shows traces of a tower; its most significant remain is the lower part, but its windowless elevation demonstrates its origin as a defense tower. Other remains of a tower can be seen after street number 4, enclosed in the house once owned by Eugenio Corbetta, a politician from Cantù. A few meters on, on the back of the palace of the Permanent Exhibition, whose front opens in piazza Garibaldi, you can see a restored tower, endowed with a small, elegant, lodge; a stone slab from Roman times is walled up in the lodge, dedicated to two women, «Albutia ac Vettilia». Some of the towers of via Corbetta were declared “National monument” at the beginning of the XX century, thanks to the intervention of the archeologist Alfonso Garovaglio. The remains of another tower, enclosed in a private home, can be found close by in via Chiavelli, a small street that climbs up from via Corbetta.

Chiesa S. Teodoro

Church of S. Teodoro (St. Theodorus)

Information

Location: the church of S. Teodoro (St. Theodorus) prospects on the square of the same name, opening on a side of via Eugenio Corbetta.

Access: the main access is through the front door on the square; it is also possible, however, to enter from a secondary door, on the left side of the church, situated on a passage between the square and via Volta. A third entrance is on the back of the building, between the right apse and the chapel of the Crucifix; it is accessed from via Volta crossing a fenced space on the back of the church.

Paving: the square is paved in slabs of stone; at its centre is a green flowerbed, that holds some archaeological relics. The staircase is paved in stone, as well as the small platform at the top. The passage that, starting from via Volta, flanks the left side of the church is in cubes of porphyry. The fenced space on the back is paved in stone.The church is paved in bricks, with the exception of the apses, in small slabs, and of the chapel of the Crucifix, in polished marble.

Architectural barriers: the entrance is reached by a staircase with eight steps and a hand railing on both sides. The staircase leads to a platform delimited on the front by a low iron railing resting on small stone pillars. Before the main entrance there is a low step in stone. The main entrance has a revolving door. The side entrance on the left also has a revolving door. At the beginning and at the end of the passage on the left side of the church are two cement kerbstones. To access the fenced space at the back of the building you have to descend two steps; the entrance on the back also has a revolving door. Inside the church, to reach the apse of the central nave, four steps have to be ascended; to reach the apses of the side naves two steps (a slide is also available in the right apse); to reach the chapel of the Crucifix, one stone step.

Services: parking available nearby (you can park in the square only at the time of religious services; cash dispenser in Via Corbetta; bus stop in via Alessandro Volta.

Leisure and Food: bars and restaurants in the neighbourhood; shops; city theater San Teodoro in via Corbetta 7; public garden in via Dante (Parco Argenti).

Other information: the church is usually open. For opening times call 031.714570 (Parish of S. Teodoro – Secretary)

Description

The Church of S. Teodoro (St. Theodorus) was mentioned for the first time in a document of the year 1207; according to recent studies, the church should have been built in the 12th century. In some documents the church has the double dedication to the Saints Bartholomew and Theodorus.

During the Counter-Reform, at the half of the 17th century, the church was subject to renovation works: in particular the lateral apses where demolished and replaced by two chapels with a rectangular plan, with the wall at the bottom almost in line with the main apse. The desire to align the architecture of the church to the baroque style was completed by the intervention of Gerolamo Quadrio (who at the time was leading the Fabricery of the Cathedral of Milan, and was already working in Cantù in the project of the church of S. Maria). He redefined the vaults and the pillars, and probably reconstructed the bell tower (which was renovated again in 1831 by adding the octaedhron and the dome). The chapel of the Crucifix was built on the right of the church in the second half of the 19h century; at the beginning of the following century, under the direction of the architect Campanini, a series of interventions were carried over in order to restore the church in its original shape, not least the reconstruction of the two side apses. In the years 2001-2003, under the direction of the architect Luigi Vaghi, who also designed the project, further important works of restoration and consolidation were completed.

The simple facade alternates big square blocks at the bottom with pilasters in cobbles and fired bricks. It is dominated by a beautiful portal of the 18th century, in gray and yellow sandstone; above, at the centre, is an image of the bishop Teodoro. The interior shows a structure with three naves, delimited by heavy square pillars. Each nave ends with an apse, but only the central one is considered original. Few traces remain of the decoration mentioned by cardinal Federico Borromeo in 1604; one is the fresco of San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist) on the first pillar on the left, another is the refined Our Lady of the Milk, dated by some art historians at the beginning of the 16th century, that was ripped and inserted in a baroque frame along the left nave. At the beginning of the right nave, a niche, decorated by a fresco of the Battesimo di Gesù (Jesus’ Baptism) contains a baptismal font of the 18t century. The presbytery opens at the end of the central nave, delimited by a beautiful marble balustrade, with an elegant wrought iron gate; the main altar, of the 18th century, is in polichrome marbles; on the wall of the apse stands a fresco with Il Crocifisso tra San Bartolomeo e San Teodoro (the Crucifix between Saint Bartholomew and Saint Theodorus), dating back to the end of the 16th century. The altar at the end of the left apse is currently dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, while that at the end of the right nave is overlooked by a lovely wooden statue of Sant’Agata (Saint Agatha). The chapel of the Crucifix holds a precious wooden Crucifix, with true hair and spines, originally in the demolished church of the Saints Giacomo and Filippo; under the plan of the altar is a representation of the Souls of the Purgatory.

Contacts

Parrocchia S. Teodoro – Segreteria, Piazza S. Teodoro 3 Cantù; Tel. 031.714570; E-mail segreteria.santeodoro@sanvincenzocantu.it; Website  http://sanvincenzocantu.it/comunita-pastorale/parrocchie/san-teodoro/

Comune di Cantù – Ufficio Cultura, Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; E-mail cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

For further information:

WEBsiteComunità Pastorale “San Vincenzo” Cantù-Intimiano

Website  Comune di Cantù

Website Cammino di San Pietro

chiesa S. Maria

Former Monastery and Church of St. Mary (S. Maria)

 

Information

Location: the complex of the former monastery of Saint Mary, that currently hosts the City Hall of Cantù, with the annexed church of Saint Mary’s, still in function, is located in the block of houses delineated by Piazza Marconi, via Manzoni and Piazza Parini.

Access: you can access the City Hall from piazza Parini 4, and the church from via Manzoni 10.

Paving: piazza Parini is asphalted; in front of the entrance there is a sidewalk in porphyry cubes. Beside the church of St. Mary’s the sidewalk is enlarged and there are slabs of stone perpendicular to the entrance; the footsteps are in stone

Architectural barriers: there are none to access the City Hall. To reach the church you need to climb four steps of variable height; on the left, the last step is at the same level of the enlargement of the sidewalk.

Services: urban and extra-urban bus stops in via Volta and piazza Parini; ATM teller in Piazza Garibaldi and via Corbetta; chemist’s shops in via Ariberto da Intimiano and via Matteotti;

Leisure and Food: bars and shops; public gardens in via Dante (Parco Argenti) and via Roma (Parco Martiri delle Foibe).

Other information: the former monastery, now the City Hall, can be visited in working hours. Further information on the site of the Commune of Cantù https://www.comune.cantu.co.it/hh/index.php.

The church is usually closed; for information see the contacts section below.

Description

A document states that in 1086 a Benedictine monastery was constituted by the dominus Omodeo Tanzi de Canturio, who donated it to the Benedictine monks of Saint Peter of Cluny, together with a vineyard and terrains, fields and forests, for them to pray for his soul and those of his relatives. In another document, dated 1093, Alberto, prior of the benedictine monastery of Pontida, dedicated the monastery of Saint Mary to women following the Cluniac rule; Agnes “de Burgundi” (the Burgundian) was designated prioress. According to tradition, Benedictine nuns introduced lace manufacturing in the territory of Cantù; according to rev. Calo Annoni the activity was instead introduced by the Humiliates.

The great monastery presents a main cloister, and a secondary one, built in a later period, possibly after the erection of the church, in the XVII century. After its suppression in 1798, during the Cisalpine Republic, the structure was transformed in a military barrack; later it was bought by the municipality of Cantù; at first it was used as a school, then, at the beginning of the new millennium, became the prestigious seat of the same municipality.

Since the XIII century the monastery received the daughters of the best families of Cantù; in the following centuries it became richer and richer, thanks to the protection of the nobility of Milan and Como, where the nuns came from. Around the middle of the XVII century, the construction of a new church was decided, in order to replace the old, already renovated at the time of the bishopric of Saint Carlo Borromeo, with the division in two parts: one external, for the faithful, the other internal, reserved for nuns and separated by a grid. Girolamo Quadrio, architect of the Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano, was charged with the reconstruction, and was later replaced by his son Giovan Battista. Works were carried out in the years from 1665 to 1683. Upon the suppression of the monastery, the church was closed, and the furniture dispersed; the church was bought by Giacinto Galimberti after the year 1802, and re-consecrated in 1839, thanks to the good offices of the provost, rev. Carlo Annoni.

The brick facade is unfinished; a beautiful stone portal, designed by Giovan Battista Quadrio, stands out, surmounted by a great shell, with two garlands springing out of it.

The interior is sober and has an octagonal plan, featuring an alternation of straight and curve walls, that provide a cruciform look, together with the entrance, the presbytery and the two side altars. The right altar is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception (Immacolata Concezione) while the left one is entitled to San Luigi Gonzaga. According to Stefano della Torre, an architect, this church represents «an attempt to reconcile the respective charm and deep spiritual meanings of the cruciform and circular plans». The imposing dome is surmounted by a stout lantern; the weight of this powerful baroque structure rests upon four couples of large Corinthian columns.

The main altar (originally dedicated to the Holy Virgin’s Nativity) leans on a painted wall, with a trompe l’oeil effect, simulating two windows opening onto the monastery. At the centre, a large altarpiece depicts the Holy Virgin with her Child and the saints Hyacinth, Adalberto, bishop of Como, two Dominican friars and two donors [Vergine con il Bambino e i Santi Giacinto, il vescovo di Como Adalberto, due frati domenicani e due offerenti], framed by eighteen episodes of the life of the Saint [Episodi della vita del Santo]. The complex was painted by an artist from Brescia, Grazio Cossali, in 1596; it was originally placed in the Dominican church of S. Giovanni in Pedemonte in Como and was donated by Giacinto Galimberti.

Three inscriptions are located in the presbytery, commemorating the translation of the bones of Agnese “de Burgundi” in 1690.

Contacts

Parish S. Paolo – Segreteria, via C. Annoni 3 Cantù; Tel. 031.701393; E-mail segreteria.sanpaolo@sanvincenzocantu.it; Sito internet http://sanvincenzocantu.it/comunita-pastorale/parrocchie/san-paolo/

Comune di Cantù – Ufficio Cultura, Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; E-mail cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

For further information:

website Comunità Pastorale “San Vincenzo” Cantù-Intimiano

website Comune di Cantù

website Lombardia Beni Culturali

web site Cammino di San Pietro

S.Ambrogio interno

Monastery* and former Saint Ambrose’s Church

*Partially lost building

Information

Location: the monastery and church of Saint Ambrose (Ambrogio) stood on the southern side of the current piazza Marconi, in the vicinity of the complex of Saint Mary.

Services: urban and extra-urban bus stops in via Manzoni and piazza Parini; ATM teller in Piazza Garibaldi and via Corbetta; chemist’s shop in via Ariberto da Intimiano and via Matteotti;

Leisure and Food: bars and shops; public gardens in via Dante (Parco Argenti) and via Roma (Parco Martiri delle Foibe).

Other information: the monastery has been demolished, while the church was restructured in 2001 as a room for cultural exhibitions and is generally closed. For more information, see the Contacts section below

Description

A community of pious women, probably of the order of the Humiliates, that managed in this place Saint Ambrose’s (Ambrogio’s) Hospital (already mentioned in the XIII century), not tied to vows and not dressed as nuns, in 1476 decided to agree to the rule of Saint Augustine; in 1505 Pope Giulio II granted them the right to build a monastery for an enclosed community, with a church. The building was erected around the year 1570, thanks to the donation of sister Letitia, from the family Alciati, of local nobility. The church has a square plan and, in its original structure, follows the typical late-Renaissance style of the XVI century, with an imposing dome positioned over a great cylindrical lantern. In later times, the liturgical rules imposed by the Counter-Reform of Saint Carlo Borromeo (1586) forced the separation of the church into two distinct spaces: the internal church, reserved for the enclosed community, and the external, open to the faithful and dedicated to religious functions. The external church was further renovated with a rich baroque decoration, reaching its apex in the cycle of the dome, painted by Giampaolo and Raffaele Recchi in 1676, with the unusual iconographic theme of the Transfiguration of the Virgin Mary, surrounded by Saints; also the stuccoes, ascribed to Agostino Silva, are precious.

The church fell intro abandon after the suppression of the monastery in 1784 during the Cisalpine Republic; deconsecrated at the beginning of the XIX century, it was sold by auction in 1818 and transformed, together with the monastery (that had become a military school) into private homes and warehouses. Around the middle of the century the internal church and the bell tower were demolished. There are very few remains nowadays of the pristine splendour of the church; it was bought by the Municipality of Cantù in 1890 and, in 2001, was significantly restored and consolidated under the direction of the architect Marco Dezzi Bardeschi in order to repurpose it for cultural activities.

The monastery was demolished in 1936, to make room for the current piazza Marconi

Contacts

Comune di Cantù – Ufficio Cultura, Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; E-mail cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

For further information:

website Comune di Cantù

website Lombardia Beni Culturali

websit Cammino di San Pietro

website Infobuild

 

Area Pusterla S. Ambrogio

Pusterla of Saint Ambrose (Ambrogio)* (Saint Ambrose’s secondary gate)

 

* Lost building

Information

Collocazione: the Pusterla di Sant’Ambrogio (Saint Ambrose’s secondary gate) stood in the place where now via Cavour opens into Piazza Marconi.

Description

We find scarce traces in historical archives about the Pusterla (in latin, «Posterula», that is, secondary gate) of Sant’Ambrogio, (Saint Ambrose) placed, in the map that was published in 1835 by the rev. Carlo Annoni, in the south-western area of the borough, between Saint Ambrose’s and Saint Mary’s monasteries, at the beginning of the road to Cucciago. According to Graziano Alfredo Vergani, the construction of Saint Ambroses gate does not date back to the middle ages, because it is not mentioned in any document of that period, and, moreover, does not show in a painting of the borough of Cantù, made in 1570 and preserved in a manuscript from the archives of the Bishopric of Milan; therefore, probably its construction dates back to the XVII century.

In that same area, ad Cavannam, a document of 1086 mentions another gate, named «Porta Ruscana»; in another collection of acts, dated 1623 and concerning the properties of Saint Paul’s collegiate church, a «Porta Stupam» or «Stupam» is mentioned; both are probably identifiable as the same structure.

Contacts

Comune di Cantù – Ufficio Cultura, Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; E-mail cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

area Porta San Rocco

Coldonico Gate or Saint Rocco’s Gate*

* Lost building

Information

Collocazione: Coldonico Gate stood close to Sonvico chemist’s shop at 34, via Matteotti; the shop still shows visible remains of a tower.

Description

Coldonico gate (also known as Caldonico Gate), that is the gate of the Collis Dominicus (= hill owned by the landlord) is already mentioned in notarial acts at the end of the XIV century; it is therefore reasonable to presume that the gate was one of the accesses opened in the middle-age in the walls encircling the city of Cantù.

Upon interpretation of the available documents, it is presumed that the Coldonico gate, as the gate mentioned as San Rocco’s gate in the rev. Annoni’s map, stood at the southern extreme of the borough, at the end of Contrada Colle di Vico, on the road to Milan. The name was probably assigned to the gate after 1537, possibly following the construction nearby of the oratory dedicated to Saint Rocco, which stood on the corner between piazza Volontari della Libertà and via Enrico Brambilla, deconsecrated and sold at an auction in the eighties of the XVIII century, at the time of the suppression of the monastery ordered by the Austrian Emperor Joseph II.

Contacts

Comune di Cantù – Ufficio Cultura, Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; E-mail cultura@comune.cantu.co.it