Isole Borromee Isole Borromee

29 September 2020

The medieval-inspired garden of the Rocca di Angera

The medieval-inspired garden of the Rocca di Angera

In the Middle Ages plants were an integral part of people’s lives: they were food, flavourings, medicines, fabrics, colours, soap and much more. And they also had a symbolic meaning associated with the spiritual life.

In the garden of the Rocca Borromeo the aim has been to recreate the environment that welcomed this complex and fascinating world at that time. By studying the texts and iconographies, we have been able to trace the names of the plants that were known and used at the time; these have been sought out and, where possible, recovered. Flowers that today seem too simple, that grow at the edges of roads, that are pulled up as weeds, are valued here and, if they do grow spontaneously, they retain their place of honour showing off their rediscovered beauty.

It is the rediscovery of the “original” plant, the one that is present in nature, that knows nothing of human intervention and the cultural contaminations typical of the centuries that followed. The garden follows the life cycles of plants and revives the naturalness of far-off times. In this way it is possible to admire the beautiful blossoms of the apple and almond trees in April, the flowers of the chicory in August and the mature leafless pumpkins in September.

fioriture rocca di angera
The spontaneous flowers in the garden

Lettuces, cabbages, carrots, onions and chards grow in the Vegetable Garden. The pumpkin is the Lagenaria, the “bottle-shaped” one, the legumes are fava beans and chickpeas. A collection of aromatic herbs for seasoning enriches everything. In the Orchad apples and pears, figs and medlars.

orto rocca di angera
Aromatic herbs in the vegetable garden
frutteto rocca di angera
The quince, a very popular fruit tree in the Middle Ages

In the Garden of the Princes, the only zone devoted solely to aesthetic enjoyment, a rose garden welcomes Rosa gallica officinale, also known as the Apothecary’s rose, and Rosa alba, white and red, which with their single flowerings testify to the traditions of the past. Also present in this zone are Rosa botanica and Damask rose, which resemble to their ancient cousins, but offer continuous, generous flowering to visitors during the entire summer season. Together with the roses there are various herbaceous flowers that have been handed down from the images of that time: Madonna Lily, Martagon Lily, Common Peony, Iris florentina (white), primroses and violets.

pergolato rocca di angera
The Prince's pergola, with a spring in the center, is covered with roses in May
rose rocca di angera
The mottling of botanical roses

To guarantee a presence of colour in all the periods of the season, plants have been added that, even thought they produced flowers, had entirely different intended uses. Such as chicory, with its blue summer flowers; Saponaria, a delicate pale pink flower; Chervil, with its light white flowers; the poppy, in its many colours; Betony, with its sky blue ‘ears’.

Medicinal herbs, divided up into groups based on their curative functions and illustrated in detail by a signage system, fill the raised flowerbeds made of woven willow typical of the gardens of monks, in the Garden of small herbs Together with these, the dye-house plants, useful grasses (flax, hemp, Saponaria) and magical herbs.

In the grove, where hazels, laurels, cypresses and holm oaks create a fresh, cool atmosphere, a small brook flows into the pond where iris, buttercup, Myosotis and water mint bloom. Further along, a topiary yew tree with three overlapping disks dominates beneath the chestnut dome of the pergola, on which ancient varieties of grape climb and, with time, will provide a little shade in the sunnier months. Lawns left to grow uncut offer the image of wildness intended to be conveyed.

giardino rocca di angera
Not just red for the garden poppies
giardino erbe piccole rocca di angera
In caissons, they bloom until autumn, turning the garden yellow

Until 1st November, the seasonal closure of the Rocca di Angera, the atmosphere of the garden is rendered even more magical thanks to the “Fantastic Utopias” contemporary art exhibition being staged in the Ala Scaligera of the castle. The exhibition, curated by Ilaria Bonacossa and in collaboration with Galleria Continua, displays the works of 15 international artists who, in their difference, give rise to unexpected images and objects, both seductive and frightening at the same time, able to take us into alternative universes far removed from reality.  The exhibition came about based on the premise that in our post-real world, in which conflicts and political and environmental crises seem to follow each other in rapid succession, the fantastic and its representations have returned to being at the centre of contemporary reflections.  With the aim of escaping reality, we dream of being surrounded by magical creatures, we live thinking of monsters and battles amid dystopian worlds, as if the secularisation of society has led to the need to imagine ourselves in other worlds.

 

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#Berthier130
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Tra le figure femminili della Galleria Berthier incuriosisce la nobildonna ritratta dal celebre pittore Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio.
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L’opera risente dell’influenza di Leonardo che in quegli anni lavorava alla corte degli Sforza, ma con una nota personale, più emotiva e coinvolgente.
Del grande maestro il pittore emula il gioiello che ferma il velo della dama, come nella raffigurazione delle “Belle Ferronnière” del Louvre.
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Con grande maestria Boltraffio riesce a dipingere l’eleganza esteriore e interiore di una dama della corte milanese. Scoprite i dettagli nelle stories.
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Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio
Ritratto femminile
1500 circa
Galleria Berthier, Palazzo Borromeo
Isola Bella
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Among the female figures of the Berthier Gallery, the noblewoman, portrayed by the famous painter Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, is one of the most intriguing.
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The work is inspired by the influence of Leonardo who, during that time, worked at the Sforza court; but the piece also invokes a personal, more emotional and engaging sentiment.
Learning from the master, the painter was able to reproduce the jewel that holds the lady’s veil, just as it is depicted in the "Belle Ferronnière" in the Louvre.
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With great skill, Boltraffio managed to paint the exterior and interior elegance of a lady of the Milanese court. Find out more in our stories.
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Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio
Female portrait
About 1500
Berthier Gallery, Palazzo Borromeo
Isola Bella

#terreborromeo #lakemaggiore #lagomaggiore #borromeoexperience #palazzoborromeo #isolabella #artlovers #galleriaberthier #artgallery #baroque #baroccoitaliano #painting #viaggioinitalia
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Gli stemmi nobiliari hanno una funzione precisa: identificare una persona o una casata in modo univoco.
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Vennero adottati a partire dal Medioevo ed ebbero all’inizio una funzione pratica: servivano a distinguere i diversi guerrieri impegnati nei tornei e nelle battaglie.
Anche la famiglia Borromeo ne ha collezionati molti. Nel corso dei secoli ha arricchito lo stemma originario in seguito ad alleanze, matrimoni, variazioni di status e conquiste territoriali.
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Tra gli elementi distintivi del suo stemma, i tre anelli a punta di diamante rappresentano l’unione delle casate Sforza, Visconti e Borromeo e il dono ricevuto da Filippo Maria Visconti e Francesco Sforza come premio per aver custodito i loro territori.
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Riuscite a individuarli nelle stories?
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Noble coats of arms have a precise function: to uniquely identify a person or house.
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They were adopted from the Middle Ages and initially had a practical function: they were used to distinguish the different warriors engaged in tournaments and battles.
The Borromeo family have collected many over the centuries. The original coat of arms has been enriched as a result of alliances, marriages, changes in status and territorial conquests.
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Among the distinctive elements of its coat of arms, the three diamond-tipped rings represent the union of the Sforza, Visconti and Borromeo families and the gift received by Filippo Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforza as a reward for guarding their territories.
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Can you spot them in our stories?

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#Berthier130
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Tra tutti gli sguardi della Galleria Berthier, quello inquieto e fiero di un gentiluomo pare fissarci dritto negli occhi.
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Sembra quasi di conoscerlo, merito della posa informale e dell'espressività del ritratto. Daniele Crespi, pittore del Seicento lombardo molto amato dalla famiglia Borromeo, è famoso per la sua capacità di coinvolgere lo spettatore creando un'empatia immediata tra il soggetto dipinto e chi lo osserva.
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Come ci riesce? Scopritelo nelle stories.
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Daniele Crespi
Ritratto di gentiluomo con barba
1625-1630
Galleria Berthier, Palazzo Borromeo
Isola Bella
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Among the many gazes in the Galleria Berthier, the restless and proud one of a gentleman seems to stare us straight in the eyes.
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It feels like we almost seem to know him, thanks to his informal pose and the expressiveness of the portrait. Daniele Crespi, a seventeenth-century painter from Lombardy, much loved by the Borromeo family, is famous for his ability to engage the viewer by creating an immediate empathy between the painted subject and the observer.
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How does he do it? Find out in our stories.
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Daniele Crespi
Portrait of a Gentleman with a Beard
1625-1630
Berthier Gallery, Palazzo Borromeo
Isola Bella

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Nella giornata della donna, vi presentiamo Clelia del Grillo Borromeo Arese (1684-1777), uno straordinario esempio di emancipazione per le donne della sua epoca.
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Coltissima, esuberante ed eccentrica, si appassionò allo studio delle lingue, alla filosofia, alla storia e alla politica, ma nutrì grande interesse anche per la mineralogia e la matematica.
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Famosi e controversi i suoi salotti di “conversazione”: ogni sera apriva le porte della sua casa per ospitare i più importanti uomini di scienza e cultura italiani e stranieri, tra cui anche Montesquieu.
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Clelia ricevette un grande omaggio dal matematico Guido Grandi, che nei suoi studi sui fiori geometrici nominò alcune curve "clelie", in onore della Contessa.
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Che il coraggio di Clelia di essere libera e diversa sia il migliore augurio per tutte le donne, oggi e ogni giorno dell’anno.
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On Women's Day, we present Clelia del Grillo Borromeo Arese (1684-1777), an extraordinary example of the emancipation of women of her time.
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Cultured, exuberant and eccentric; she became interested in the study of languages, philosophy, history and politics, but also had great interest in mineralogy and mathematics.
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Her living rooms of “conversation” were famous and controversial: every evening she opened the doors of her house to host the most important Italian and foreign men of science and culture, including Montesquieu.
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Clelia received a great tribute from the mathematician Guido Grandi, who in his studies of geometric flowers named some curves "clelias", in honor of the Countess.
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May Clelia's courage to be free and different be the best wish for all women, today and every day of the year.
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