The Matris Domini Monastery was an enclosed female monastery. It houses a museum featuring several medieval frescoes with religious themes. The monastery was founded during the second half of the 13th century by the Dominican Order to house a community of nuns. There is no certain date for the foundation, probably during the rule of Bishop Algiso da Rosate or that of Erbordo Ungano. Its church was consecrated on 25 March 1273 by Bishop Guiscardo Suardi.
From its beginning the monastery experienced the continuous development and growth of its community. It was rebuilt in 1359 and was enlarged in the 16th- and 17th-centuries, but it was suppressed during the occupation of Italy by French forces during the Napoleonic Wars.
In modern times, it was converted into a Gestapo prison during the German occupation of Italy during World War II. The monastery was eventually returned to its own original function and to the nuns.
The monastery displays in Romanesque frescoes. Dating from the 13th and the 14th century, they are among the earliest examples of the fresco painting art in Lombardy, some of them are among the most ancient altogether.
Together with the Visitation, other frescoes are displayed, some of them well preserved. Scenes include the Just, the Blessed, two Angels with a trumpet, Saint Peter on the throne, the Hell, all attributed to the Master of the Life Tree.
The museum also houses five polychrome glass circles are displayed, originating from the 14th century stained glass window which decorated the apse of the old church. They are the oldest vitreous work in Lombardy.
The largest displays the Virgin and Blessing Child and shares with the two circles depicting the angels the peculiarity of the face and the hands devoid of color. The other two circles show, respectively, Saint Dominic Blessing and Peter of Verona, the first Dominican saint.
Next to the museum, also part of the convent complex, is the church, consecrated in 1273 and composed, following the female monasteries tradition, by an internal chapel constituted by a nave and two aisles, and by the external church.
The latter was radically transformed in the 17th century into a luminous Baroque environment, decorated by stuccoes and frescoes, including some by Pietro Baschenis, as well as several altarpieces situated in the side chapels.
Above the main altar is the 17th-century altarpiece of the Annunciation, executed by an unknown master; at its sides there are the altarpiece of the Adoration of the Shepherds (also by an unknown artist) and the Massacre of the Innocents by Pietro Ricchi.References:
Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.
Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.
The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.
Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.
Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.
The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.