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The Garden of the Fountain of Palazzo Giardino (Sabbioneta)

The garden of the Fountain of Palazzo Giardino (Sabbioneta)

italiano Italian version

Public property, open to the public


Sabbioneta is a place where art has taken a most particular and unique importance in many aspects; the history of this town is inextricably linked to Vespasiano Gonzaga, one of the most extraordinary and complex figures in the history of the collateral branches of the Gonzaga family. When in power, Vespasiano decided to launch an urbanisation project that transformed the small fortified settlement into the capital of the area and an exemplary demonstration of his princeps status, and perhaps the most obvious sixteenth century attempt at implementing the ideal town.
This was when the monumental complexes that still characterise this small hamlet were built. In 1582 in particular, on the occasion of his third marriage to Margherita Gonzaga, sister of Ferrante II of Guastalla, the renovation of the Garden House began, a building complex in Piazza d'Armi, sided and integrated with the Galleria degli Antichi and what was then the Armoury and Rocca, which were later demolished, at the end of the 18th century.
The low-rising two-storey building with three portals, stretched along the facade, of which only the central one retains the original polychrome marble structure, was completed at the rear with an Italian garden called Garden of the Fountain, which is attributed to Bernardino Campi from Cremona; the original composition of which has by now been irreversibly modified. This place seems to refer to a quadrangular area with a geometrical design in which two perpendicular tree-lined avenues, created with pergolas with oak columns and, together with the tree-lined avenues of the perimeter, marked the fourfold division of the internal space where other paths probably created additional subdivisions of the four main flower-beds, probably lined by boxwood borders, all integrated with fountains, artificial grottoes and water games.
The garden was designed as a private and exclusive area, integrating and penetrating the residence’s external spaces, in a relationship marked by the decoration of the small barrel-vaulted room that takes you to the garden from the atrium, where the decorated space of the pergola, created with river reeds on which grapevines climb, with leaves, tendrils and grape bunches, opening on to the royal garden. The ancient garden grounds, as well as the boundary wall, niches and traces of ancient fountains, can still be found today, reminiscent of the original design of this exclusive and treasured location.

(From  G. Sartori, Il giardino de la fontana di Palazzo Giardino, in I giardini dei Gonzaga 2018, pp. 407-413)


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