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Palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera

Palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera

Palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera  is one of the many palaces built by the Vitelli family in Citta di Castello, at the behest of Paola Rossi of San Secondo of  Parma together with her husband Alessandro Vitelli, a Commander in the service of the Medici, "so that the memory of their name and their worth would not perish " and never be forgotten by the city". It was built between 1521 and 1532 in the historic centre by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and Pier Francesco da Viterbo. The term 'cannoniera' or "gunboat" refers to the area where the palace was built, next to a cannon depository. The main façade is decorated with engravings designed by Giorgio Vasari. The palace garden was famous throughout Europe for its collection of exotic plants in the sixteenth century.

There was a succession of owners over the years, the most notable of whom was the antiquarian Elia Volpi who contributed to the restoration of the palace restoring it to its former glory.  In 1912 the last owner donated the palace to the city on the condition it was used as the municipal art gallery. The art gallery has a wealth of masterpieces, enhanced by frescoes  by  Cristofano Gherardi, also called 'il Doceno', and Cola dell'Amatrice running from the large staircase, where there are mythical and allegorical figures. In the Great Hall the exploits of  Hannibal, Scipio, Caesar and Alexander the Great are depicted, at the request of Alessandro Vitelli, Commander, to highlight his military skills.  Of the works of art preserved in the art gallery, the oldest is the Great Altarpiece dating from the early fourteenth century, depicting the Madonna and Child with Angels by the Master of Città di Castello, a sensitive Sienese painter and follower of Duccio. There are also important works by Luca Signorelli, Raphael, Ghirlandaio, Antonio Vivarini, Giusto di Gand, Raffaellino del Colle and Pomarancio  all of which contribute to making the collection one of the most beautiful in Umbria. The furniture on display originates mainly from local churches and convents.


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