Hi Buzztrippers! Today we’ll visit two free and mostly unknown museums: I guess this may sound a bit boring, but just give me the chance to convince you that a museum can be fascinating 🙂 Indeed, during my last excursion, I found out about their existence in Gemona (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Udine province) city center.
Gemona has always been an important center since the prehistorical era, thanks to its privileged location, on the road connecting the Adriatic coast to the Austrian Alps. Local governments exploited it in 13th and 14th century by imposing a tax called Niederlech: merchants intending to travel along Gemona roads were forced to unload their goods and spend a night in local taverns and inns. The simple Niederlech trick made Gemona one of the most influential and affluent towns in Friuli in those centuries: this is perfectly mirrored by both the elegant palaces located along the central Via Bini and by its museums. The city declined from the Venetian Republic domination onwards, but in a town that nowadays counts 11.000 inhabitants you will still find 4 excellent museums (all free!!) : Elti Museum, St. Anthony Church Museum, Parish Museum, Earthquake Museum.
Today, I will bring you to two of them: let’s begin our visit!
Located in an elegant palace, bought in 1519 by an Austrian merchant and owned by his family for 450 years, this museum hosts several interesting works of art from the 15th, 16th century (Cima da Conegliano, Pomponio Amalteo, etc.) and from more modern periods. Going up the stairs you will meet a few Elti family portraits, silent witnesses of the palace former wealth.
The first floor holds paintings from churches Beata Vergine delle Grazie and San Giovanni in Brolo, both destroyed by the terrible 1976 earthquake. Do not miss the first room, where two coeval paintings (beginning of 16th century) are kept: they are like night and day despite the same creation period. One comes from Salzburg school (dark colors, no use of perspective, buyers’ portraits in the painting, late-Medieval atmosphere, chaotic composition), whereas the other (by Pellegrino da San Daniele, created in a more “Italian” and avant-garde context) already reveals Renaissance influences (use of perspective, simple composition, light colors, delicate atmosphere).
These works of art underline how capital and revolutionary Renaissance was, if compared with the previous artistic trends; and how “mixed” Gemona was, with painters coming from different artistic schools.
The second floor presents the Baldissera collection: as a matter of fact, it was Valentino Baldissera, a local scholar and presbyter, that founded it in the second half of 19th century. As a local historian, he decided to collect works created by Gemona artists, preserving their memory and giving birth to the first seed of the civic museum. In this section you will find paintings by Giuseppe Barazzutti (observe how skillfully he conveys snow reflections in his landscapes); drawings by Raimondo D’Aronco, a famous architect (do not miss his hand-made drawings for a monument dedicated to Vittorio Emanuele); and a moving painting by Francesco Bierti, representing an execution of anti-fascists occured in Udine in 1945. This sort of Friulian Guernica is undoubtedly thought-provoking, thanks to its distorted forms, horror expressions and violent colors… it made me clearly realize how brutal human beings can be.
Opening hours: Sunday and non-working days, 11.00 am-00.30 pm/03.00 pm-07.00 pm
This location has always been a relevant destination for believers, being one of the oldest St.Anthony sanctuaries in Italy, and it has been entirely restored after the terrible 1976 earthquake. The new, modern church is caracterized by a wave-shaped ceiling and by a refined and colorful mosaic by the local artist Arrigo Poz.
Mosaic by Arrigo Poz
Walls are enriched by several interesting ex-voto even though the most important, spiritual attraction is the cell where St.Anthony is supposed to have lived in 1227 or 1228. The sanctuary museum displays works by Friulian, Venetian and Istrian artists, mostly from 17th century, and is divided into 5 rooms. Among all its treasures I will just mention the famous Madonna Bella (a 15th century golden carved-wood Virgin Mary from Salzburg school), a refined painting by Palma il Giovane, some church vestments and precious objects from the last three centuries, several 17th century ex-voto representing miracles performed by St.Anthony. Apart from those elements, some curious objects will draw your attention: four precious reliquaries with an incredible number of relics’ fragments, one for every day of the year!
Opening hours: the museum opens on request. The visit is free.This entry was posted in Friuli-Venezia Giulia