A castle-palace of medieval origin surrounded by a splendid Romantic landscape park laid out in 1833 replacing a pre-existent 18th-century formal garden, with centuries-old plants, statues, a pond, greenhouses and a “Café Haus”.
In the early 18th-century, the Meli Lupi family entrusted Giovanni Battista Bettoli with the creation of a great Italian garden with statues for their old medieval castle-palace that during the 16th and 17th century had been converted into a lavish residence. The garden was further extended in 1781 by Prince Guido. In 1833 his descendant Casimiro commissioned architect Luigi Voghera to transform the outdoor space into a landscape park, with meandering pathways winding their way between hills and tall-tree groves creating pleasantly interesting views. The layout includes a wide selection of species, including American black walnut, one of the largest in Europe, Japanese beech, ginkgo biloba, magnolia, chestnut, black locust, hazel and acacia, plus a considerable variety of flowers. At the centre of a small lake designed by Voghera is the “Isola dell’Amore”, an “island of love” with grottos decorated scenographic stalactites and stalagmites. A double ramp staircase with 18th-century statues representing the Nile, the Ganges and the Four Seasons connects the garden to the Rocca Meli Lupi building. At the far end of the park there are the Neoclassic Café Haus and a greenhouse with a luxuriant rose garden nearby. Also notable is the park’s selection of 18th-century Venetian statues.
The Corte d’Onore
A vaulted porch with mid-15th-century frescoes overlooks the court of honour. With a grapevine pattern on the ceiling, the parietal lunettes feature the emblems of the families that over the centuries became related to the Meli Lupi lineage.
Sala delle Grottesche
This hall is also known as “del Baglione” since it was frescoed by Cesare Baglione from Cremona, an artist who lived between the 16th and the 17th century who fully expressed his creative flair in the so-called “grottesche”, the particular ornamental style inspired by the Roman decorative art unearthed in Pompeii. At the centre of the vault, the emblem of the Farnese and of the Dukes of Parma and Piacenza; the lunettes are frescoed with fine landscape scenes.
Sala degli Stucchi
The stucco and fresco decorative apparatus of this room by Ferdinando and Francesco Galli Bibiena depicts mythological scenes and episodes related to the history of the Meli Lupi family and their feats against the Ottomans.
Galleria dei Poeti
This gallery of poets comprises three sections: the first featuring a parietal décor by the Bibiena brothers, the second, literary and mythological subjects by Giovanni Motta, while the third is dedicated to Apollo. Also present in this space is a set of twelve herms of the most illustrious poets of all times: Dante, Petrarch, Ariosto, Tasso and other Greek and Latin authors.
Oratory of Santa Croce
Erected by Vigilante Petardi in the early 17th century to serve as a family mortuary chapel, this Baroque architecture features a vault decorated with frescoes by Giacomo Mercoli, marbles sculpted by Pietro Oliva and an altarpiece with a Crucifixion by Giovanni Bolla.