The Visconti Castle of Massino is located on the Vergante hills in the municipality of Massino Visconti. Since the 12th century it has been a possession and one of the preferred residences of the Visconti of Milan. At that time it was frequented by the family ancestor of the lords and dukes of Milan. Afterwards its property was transferred to other collateral branches of the lineage, from the initial Visconti di Massino to the current Visconti di San Vito.
The vast view that can be seen from the site of the castle, covering the Lake Maggiore and the territory beyond it, is supposed to be the motivation of the initial interest of the Visconti of Milan, leading them to the acquisition of the Massino court from the Abbey of Saint Gall in 1134.
A first mention of a fortification goes back to the 9th century, when Massino became prerogative of Engelberga, wife of the Emperor Louis II of Italy. The settlement was then donated to the monastery of San Sisto in Piacenza, then transferred to the Abbey of Saint Gall. In 1134 Guido Visconti son of Ottone was invested by the Sangalese monks of their properties and rights in Massino. Eight years later the investiture was confirmed by King Conrad III. Since then it has always been a possession of Visconti families.
In 1823 the property of the castle was transferred from the Visconti di Massino (a Visconti cadet branch originated from Ottone, the eldest son of Guido) to the Visconti d'Aragona. In 1863 it was acquired from the Visconti of Aragon by Pietro Pallestrini, scholar, author of an industrial review of the Verbano and mayor of Massino, who restored it and then transmitted it to the Visconti di San Vito another Visconti collateral lineage. Part of the furniture and the archive of the Visconti d'Aragona were moved to the Visconti Castle of Somma Lombardo, another estate house of the Visconti di San Vito.
At the beginning of the 20th century the importance of the Visconti Castle in the local history has led the municipality of Massino to rename itself Massino Visconti. The town can be reached by the Genova Voltri-Gravellona Toce highway, Meina exit. After the first houses the castle appears in its imposing dimensions near the church of Santa Maria. Three towers remain of the castle: two of them on both sides of the southern gate, perhaps the original entrance, surmounted by the usual Biscione. At the center of the castle stands the main tower. The courtyard of the castle ends with a terrace towards the village and the Lake Maggiore. On this side stands out a loggia open for public announcements to the village.References:
The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.
The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.
In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.
During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.
Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.
The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.