Palazzo Pio in Tresigallo

Written by  Sergio Raimondi
Urgent safety measures need to be taken on historic building The left wing of the ancient building of Palazzo Pio, in Tresigallo.
Just as with the ìVilla della Mensaî and the Church of San Venanzio in Copparese close by, and Mesola Castle and Pomposa Abbey a little further away, Palazzo Pio has been abandoned to its fate for years despite the fact that it is an invaluable historic building.
Even though it has been purchased by the municipality, if measures aren't taken urgently to render it safe, this historic building will definitely end up as a heap of rubble. It was built at the beginning of the XVI century by the then owner-feudal lord of "La Motta" estate, and from what can be understood in records dated1401 and 1426, the ìPalazzoî may well have been built on the pre-existing ìmanor-houseî of the estate. This building was to be surrounded by the historic ìvillage of buildingsî shortly afterwards. Even though it is very small, over time this village ìof buildingsî became a very important reference point in the area. This was true despite the disastrous floods that overflowed every so often from the nearby waterways, and the area was even subject to waves that came crashing in from the Adriatic coast which was much further back than it is today. On its part, it was always only considered as one of the many agricultural toponyms of the area. It was recorded as an asset that the Ferrara ìbishop's incomeî had also made available to the Tresigallo stewardship and the ìMottaî estate appears to have only been registered with the land registry in 1765. This means that we cannot check or compare the changes made to the plan of the ìmanor houseî prior to the 1700s. However we should note that apart from the fact that it is impossible to check, and disregarding the structural and architectural changes made, the impressiveness and elegance of the large areas assigned to the various elements of the building was not affected. This is particularly true of its large watchtower which has always soared overWhat’s left of the   right wing of Palazzo Pio, where the stables were.. the entire structure. Built on two floors over the ground floor, the construction is based on a four-sided core (the pre-existing ìmanor houseî?), that ended up as a large rectangular plan due to the areas added as work progressed. It is still in that form today. It is clear how spacious and airy the grand halls and entertainment halls were initially. And even though the spiral stairs are quite modest in appearance, they are elegant and fastened to the four retaining walls and provide a comfortable way to climb up to the two higher floors and top of the tower. It has always featured different windows arrangements embellishing the three floors, in addition to the long colonnade separating the main entrance from the courtyard-garden on the ground floor, and especially from the fate of the architectural elements of this area that show the clearest signs of the wounds inflicted to the old building. Wounds involving the walling up of most of the original windows and the destruction of the long arcade in the courtyard. This was all made worse by the disfiguring partitioning in some of the rooms and the pitiable whitewashing of the pictures that still decorated a lot of walls and some of the coffered ceilings which have all disappeared, even though they are still in the building. We know that it was long managed by noble and powerful families, and more especially by families faithful to the Ferrara Curia: from the Turchi-Fantoni family, the Gualengo family, the Macchiavelli Dalle Frutta family, the Faruffini-Quais family, the Quaina-Nigrisoli family and the Tassoni-Estensi family initially to the Villa and De Novatis families. Finally, the building went to the Pio/Savoy family in 1653, who were the only ones to leave us their family name – with the building – unlike their predecessors or their successors in the estate. With their name, they provide us with the echo of the building's ancient origins and prestigiousPalazzo Pio seen from the northern side. history. There are records of the Dei Pio family dating back to the IX century, and they had the surname Savoy added by the Duke of Savoy in 1419 for military services rendered. Although they were very often at loggerheads with the House of Este, the Pio family acted as their feudal lords in some of the great estates owned with allodial title that the house of Este had in the Modena, Ferrara and Rodigino area between the XV and XVI centuries. On the other hand the Pio/Savoys were vested with the feudal estate of the "La Motta" estate and its manor house by the Bishop of Ferrara, Cardinal Francesco Maria Macchiavelli in 1653. Even though no longer resident in the Ferrara area, the Pio/Savoys kept their ownership of the ìMottaî up until the end of the XVII century, i.e. up to when all the assets of the religious bodies in Italy were expropriated by the newly unified state with the arrival of Napoleon in Italy. Put up for sale, the "Motta" estate ended up being bought by the Societ‡ Bonifiche Terreni Ferraresi [Ferrara land reclamation company] in 1872, who then sold it to the Monesi family from Tresigallo in 1914. After having - fruitlessly – offered this historic building in sale to the municipality of Tresigallo, the Monesi family sold it to the F.lli Matteucci construction company towards the end of the 1980s. It was owned by the company until May 2009, when the municipality of Tresigallo finally agreed the contract for the purchase of the old building. Therefore, if the sixteenth century residence has been there up to now in all its glory, or actually been there succumbing to the humiliating deterioration over the years due to the negligence of time and man, now that it is public property, it is time to hope that the old "dangerous building" sign at the building entrance can be replaced with a new one reading "work in progress to bring the building into compliance with safety standards as a heritage building recognised by UNESCOî. This needs to be done immediately and its restoration and potential uses can be discussed at a later stage. It could involve both private and public sector workers in the Ferrara area who have shown great sensitivity and availability for worthy causes of this type in the past.