Points of interest
EX CHURCH OF SAN GIULIO
The ex-church of Saint Julius is the monument that sums up the entire history of the city, from the dawn of history to the XXI century. It was built on the ruins of a previous Late Roman structure, whose remains have been found, along with traces of a piling dating back to protohistoric, or even prehistoric, age. The church probably owes its origin to Saint Julius himself, a Greek priest of the 4th Century. The Late Roman building preceding the first church may have been a pre-Christian place of worship. On the ruins of the early medieval church, a second temple was built during the Renaissance. To pay the construction costs of the new church, in 1853, the millennial place of worship was sold to the Municipality, which transformed it into a Town hall. The municipal venue was transferred to Via Volta at the beginning of the 20th century, the building was used for other purposes, also becoming “Casa del fascio” (headquarter of the fascist party). Its singular character consists precisely in this continuous reuse. The frescoes that decorate the walls of the second church, well described in the deeds of the pastoral visit made by Cardinal Federico Borromeo in 1622, have been recovered. Of particular note is the valuable painting portraying Saint John the Baptist’s Beheading, preserved in the sacristy.
The villa was inhabited until 1775 by the Bossi family of Cassano Magnago and from 1775 to 1828 by the Agazzini family. From 1828 it was inhabited by the Oliva family, from which the villa takes its name, till 1963 when the last heir Pietro Oliva died. Upon his death the villa was donated to the Parish of Saint Mary of the Oak and subsequently purchased by the Municipality. At the beginning of the 90s renovation works began and restored its former glory. Entering the main door we find the STAIRCASE OF EUROPE, so called for the fresco painted on the back wall, the “Abduction of Europa”; the GALLERY OF THE FOUR CROWNED MEN which leads directly to the garden; the CANDELSTICKS HALL built in the last quarter of the 18th century; the HALL OF HERCULES which is one of the most spectacular rooms in the villa, with a central rose window decorated with plants motifs: it is so called because four episodes from the life of Hercules are depicted there; the NORDIC LANDSCAPES HALL with floral motifs in shades of grey, green and brown; the LITTLE DAMES HALL commissioned by the Oliva family, with a coffered wooden roof with scrolls, shells, acanthus leaves and festoons; the HUNTER’S ROOM built in the 18th century. On the external walls of the villa there are TWO SUN CLOCKS made by the Bossi family in 1723.
CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA DEL CERRO
The church of Saint Mary of the Oak was built in 1280, year of its foundation by Ottone Visconti, who wanted it as the chapel of the nearby Visconteo Castle. Evidence of its ancientness is the beautiful bell tower, in Lombard Romanic style, the only primitive element after the transformation of the church, which took place in 1825. The building was lengthened westward by reversing the original orientation (with a west facade, today east). Inside the church there is the splendid Carrera organ, dating back to 1834, a jewel of local organ building art. The pride of the church is the valuable cycle of frescoes by Luigi Morgari and Aristide Secchi, painted between 1895 and 1905, which decorates every surface synthesizing figures and biblical themes up to the stories of the saints. Since 1570 the church guards the relic of the “Holy Thorn”, found by S. Carlo Borromeo near the castle, and attributed by the tradition to the crown that Christ wore on his head.