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:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.