Castles

Castello della Manta

An initial fortified nucleus, located on top of the hill, already existed in the 13th century. The castle began to take on its current appearance thanks to the Saluzzo della Manta family in the early 15th century. It now looks like the typical result of the gradual metamorphosis of a medieval castle into a complex of constructions from different eras and styles, with a progressive loss of almost all the features of a fortification, and the acquisition of the appearance of a noble residence. The baronial hall of the Castello della Manta is home to one of the most amazing examples of the international Gothic painting style. Valerano, the lord of Manta since 1416, worked organically to construct his castle according to the functional and decorative models of the late Gothic era. The most important testimony from this period is the cycle of frescoes that entirely covers the grand baronial hall. The series of nine heroes and nine heroines of antiquity and the scene of the Fountain of Youth were frescoed a little after 1420 by an unknown painter called the "Master of Manta". The social and political message, represented by the cycle of Worthies and Heroines on view to anyone who entered the hall to confer with Valerano, was clearly self-celebratory. The characters, exemplars of virtue and heroism, taken from the classic tradition, are wearing precious garments closely mirroring the fashions in international courts in the early 15th century, and they were presumably based on members of the Saluzzo della Manta family. 
The hall of the grotesques commissioned by Michelantonio in 1560 in the reception apartment is one of the most important rooms in the castle. The cloister vault, with groins, is entirely decorated with paintings and stuccowork, depicting the plant-like shapes typical of the grotesque, classic ruins and Renaissance architecture and allegories of the Virtues. 
The church of Santa Maria al Castello has two spaces of particular interest. In the apse is a cycle of frescoes of episodes from the life of Christ, produced at almost exactly the same time as the cycle in the baronial hall. And Michelantonio's square funeral chapel is topped by an elegant octagonal cupola. 
Currently the property of the FAI, it was donated in 1984 by Elisabetta De Rege Provana.

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