The Abbey of San Benedetto in Polirone is a large complex of Benedictine order monastic buildings, including a church and cloisters. The complex, now belonging to the city, houses offices, a museum, and is open to visitors.
The abbey was founded in 1007 by Tedald, count of Canossa, the paternal grandfather of Matilda of Canossa, countess of Tuscany, with a grant to the Benedictine monks, of half his land lying between the rivers Po and Lirone, prompting the title 'in Polirone'. Polirone was the monastery most closely associated with his granddaughter, Matilda, who granted estates and dependencies. Boniface III, Margrave of Tuscany made further grants and commissioned a larger church, housing the remains of the hermit, Simeon of Polirone (died 1016). In 1077 the community passed into the reformed Benedictines under the Abbey of Cluny. At the time of the Gregorian reforms, the abbot was one of the principal proponents of the papacy in the Investiture Conflict.
From 1115 until 1632, the abbey church housed thearca raised on eight columns housing the mortal remains of Matilda of Canossa, who had selected Polirone as her memorial place, rather than the ancestral mortuary church of Canossa. For centuries she was accorded almost the veneration of a founding patron saint at Polirone. Her body was transferred to the Basilica of St. Peter, Rome, in 1632.
Polirone was one of the richest abbeys of northern Italy. In the 15th century, Guido Gonzaga, abbot in commendam, rebuilt the church in late Gothic style. The abbey church was rebuilt again to Renaissance style designs of Giulio Romano, in 1539-44, but some floor mosaics and sculptural details survive from the earlier church. The wall and vaults were extensively frescoed, by Antonio da Correggio and Antonio Begarelli, among others. Funding for reconstruction was posthumously granted by two main donors: Lucrezia Pico della Mirandola, sister of the humanist Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, greeted by the monastic community as a 'new Matilda'; and Cesare d'Arsago. Thirty-one figures by Antonio Begarelli of Modena were provided for the church, and Paolo Veronese painted three altarpieces in 1562.
In 1797, the abbey was secularized by Napoleonic rulers. Three cloisters, the free-standing great refectory (1478–79), the 'new' infirmary (1584), and the abbey church are still present, and open to visitors. The contents of the library were added to the Library of Mantua.
Three themed itineraries of the monastery, offered since the millennium celebration of 2007, concentrate on aspects of the cloistered life at Polirone: 'Land and daily bread', 'Herbs and monks', and 'Prayer and reading'.References:
Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.
Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.
Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.
The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.
During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.
The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.
From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.
The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.
Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.