Rocca di Angera
In a strategic position to control traffic through the area, the historiographical tradition associates the events of Angera with the Visconti family and its consolidation after the victory in the Battle of Desio in 1277, celebrated in the frescos of the Sala di Giustizia.
With the Visconti, the Rocca was at the centre of important reconstruction and enlargement works that were to be protracted for more than a century.
In the period of the Ambrosian Republic, the Council of Nine Hundred of the city of Milan ratified the acquisition of Angera, of the fortress and its parish from Vitaliano I Borromeo for the sum of 12,800 imperial lire on 18th January 1449.
The Rocca di Angera thus became the dwelling and the symbol of the political structure of the family, to which it still belongs today.
In 1623, when Cardinal Federico Borromeo was honoured by Phillip IV of Spain with the title of Marquisate of Angera, the fortress was in a state of considerable abandonment. The expert that the cardinal had sent to the site suggested proceeding with the essential repairs, but a short time later, at the initiative first of Giulio Cesare III (1593-1672) and then of Antonio Renato Borromeo (1632-1686), the Rocca was extensively restored. In the second half of the 17th century, leading Milanese painters were used to carry out the decoration (among others, the Santagostino brothers, Antonio Busca and Filippo Abbiati). In a climate of stubborn opposition to the Spanish Governorship, the Borromeos, with the creation of the cycle of canvases devoted to the Fasti Borromeo [Splendours of the Borromeo Family] and the portraits of historical personalities of the dynasty (1673-1685), made the Rocca one of the symbolic monuments of the family’s history, intended to illustrate the antiquity and power of the family.
In recent years the Rocca di Angera has been the object of meticulous restoration work at the wishes of Princess Bona Borromeo, who has wanted to return the Castle to its former splendour and give visitors access to its sophisticated collections, creating the largest Museum of Dolls and Toys in Europe.
The latest restoration campaign of the Ala Scaligera took place in 2017, and it here that contemporary art projects take shape today.