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Casa di Loreto

During our recent travels, Barbara and I enjoyed a week or so in the 'Marche', a region of Italy we had never come across before.   It has a lot to offer the traveller but is much less known (at least to non Italians) than other regions.   We loved it and will go back. It sits about half way up the east coast, on the shores of the Adriatic.  Highlights, for us were Fano on the coast, the Villa Imperiale at Pesaro, Urbino and Urbania.   If the area might interest you, divert off to my travel blog 'Brushing about'.

The Miniature Buildings interest came in the Museo Leonardi, the Diocesan Museum, in Urbania. This is it. Part model, part artwork. From the mid 17th century. What an amazing thing.

Two views of the miniature Casa di Loreto at Urbania

Two views of the miniature Casa di Loreto at Urbania

I can't tell you very much about it, beyond what was on the label. It is called the "Casa di Loreto". Loreto is another city in the Marche and the Santa Casa di Loreto (the Holy House of Loreto) is a tiny brick house that is said to be where the Virgin Mary grew up and the Archangel Gabriel told her of her impending maternity. Miraculously transported somehow to Italy. It is now enclosed in an ornate marble screen which sits inside the Basilica at Loreto. I have not been able to find any pictures of the exterior of this 'tiny brick house'.

The model is clearly not meant to be a representation of a tiny brick house but as the picture below shows it is clearly not a model of the 'new' marble screen either. The two doors and the window at the end echo those of the marble exterior but that is about it. The four sides of the marble screen represent the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Arrival of the Santa Casa at Loreto and the Nativity of the Virgin. It is a work of art in its own right taking the Santa Casa as its inspiration and using an idealised model of a house as its framework. Which makes it very different from almost every other model you will ever see.

The marble screen around the original Casa di Loreto.            The label on the model

The marble screen around the original Casa di Loreto

The label on the model

It was made around 1636 and the carpentry and sculpture were by the bottega (workshop) of Giovan Pietro Zuccari' (Sant'Angelo in Vado, doc 1578-1643) and the dipinti (paintings) by 'ambito di Claudio Ridolfi'. Google translates 'ambito di' as meaning 'scope of' which I guess in this context means 'in the style of' or 'school of'. Certainly ' La traslazione della Santa Casa di Loreto' by Claudio Ridolfi is a significant painting in its own right hanging in the Cathedral at nearby Urbino.

This is one of a series of blog posts from our Autumn 2019 travels.

David, November 2019
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