MANTA, Santa Maria del Castello
The date of construction of the church is unknown, but it is believed to have been built between 1416 and 1426, when Valeràno di Saluzzo held the Marquisate in place of his half-brother Ludovico. In those years Valeràno made the castle his residence, enlarging it and commissioning the exceptional frescoes of the Baronial Hall. The family of the Marquises could attend mass from the tribune in the counter-façade (now rebuilt), but the church also served as a parish church to the village of Manta, together with the more ancient Santa Maria del Monastero. At the time, the church was a single room, but over time it was remodelled several times: the wooden roof was replaced by a barrel vault and lateral chapels were opened, such as the one dedicated to the Our Lady of the Rosary - demolished in 1958 - of which we can still see the entrance arch. These interventions caused the destruction of most of the fifteenth-century frescoes that decorated the nave, today partly recovered but are hardly legible. The church was ceded on a gratuitous loan by the Municipality of Manta to the F.A.I. in 1986 and was the subject of a long and demanding restoration that concluded in 2004.
Despite the insertion of the partition behind the altar, the frescoes of the choir have been practically preserved intact. The cycle is datable perhaps to around 1427, when the church became a parish church; it is one of the best examples of International Gothic art, of which the Manta castle is an undisputed apex. The lower part of the walls is occupied by a patterned decoration; higher up the Stories of the Passion of Christ wind over two registers without interruption, from left to right, up to the large wall with the Crucifixion. On the wall was the headstone of Gàsparo Tapparelli di Lagnasco, who died in 1553 at an early age. The characters with strong facial features - almost caricatures - crowd inside open architectures like doll’s houses. They are painted with fine colours and with great attention to the details of fashion, botanical elements, landscapes: we must just stop and observe to discover strawberry plants, animals, windmills, hats and armour of a thousand shapes ...
The cappella del Cristo Risorto
The cappella del Cristo Risorto (Chapel of the Risen Christ) opens along the right wall, commissioned by Michele Antonio di Saluzzo who was buried here in 1609, as the splendid floor tombstone recalls. The chapel has a square plan and is entirely covered with frescoes and stuccos, fully in line with the taste in vogue between the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century.
The decoration is focused on the Stories of Christ that are narrated in open medallions on the walls and on the vault, ending in the canvas with the Risen Christ.
From the four angular rib vaults we can observe intense figures of elegantly dressed prophets. The work is attributed to Giovanni Angelo Dolce, a painter from Savigliano who expressed his pictorial and scenographic skills to the best here.
Direction: Paolo Ansaldi
Post-Production: VDEA Produzioni
Translations: Europa 92
Copywriter and research: Laura Marino
Municipality of Manta
Fondo Ambiente Italiano