Chignolo Po Castle (Italy)
Lombardy See list of castles in Italia
Transiting on the Via Francigena in 990, the archbishop of Canterbury, Sigerico, indicates the abbey of Santa Cristina, with its castle, as the stage XL (mansio).
In front of the fort, towards the north, the Borgo (Ricetto) was built, which was completely rebuilt in 1600. It looks like a homogeneous architectural complex protected at the entrance by a moat, 2 sentry boxes and 4 towers on either side.
From 1700 to 1730 at the behest and funding of Cardinal Agostino Cusani Visconti (1655-1730), the pope's ambassador to the Republic of Venice and to the court of Louis XIV of France, the castle was enlarged and transformed from a medieval fortress into a real palace , where popes, emperors and kings stayed; in this period the reception rooms were embellished with stuccos and paintings made by artists of the Tiepolo school.
The work was commissioned by the Roman architect Giovanni Ruggeri who, making use of Venetian and French workers, had:
- the construction of the large park of 30 hectares that extends around the castle
- the construction in the center of the park of a majestic Baroque building, with a small lake in front of it, called "Tea House" or "Belvedere"
- the construction of gardens, nymphaeums, gazebos, fountains and statues near the castle
- the construction of the courtyard of honor, decorated with the cardinal's bishop's coat of arms on the main balcony, connected to the garden by a bridge that spans the moat
- the construction of the entire east wing which houses the guest apartments, including the famous Pope's apartment dedicated to Clement XI, and the bedroom that hosted Napoleon Bonaparte and the Austrian Emperor Francis I of Habsburg.
Following these works, and the rank of the guests, the castle of Chignolo Po was called the Versailles of Lombardy