© PHOTOS BY ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI
I recently had the way to visit again one of the most beautiful Italian medieval villages, Cornello dei Tasso (Bergamo). In the ancient church (XII Century) I saw incredible frescoes. I was attracted and fascinated by frescoes of colored stripes on the walls (XV-XVI Century). They are really cool and they have an incredible modern touch. They are signs and signals comin’ from the past; they tell us the universal language of colors and art.
The church (dedicated to Saints Cornelio and Cipriano) where I saw the frescoed stripes, dominates the village from on high, with its bell tower with mullioned windows, beautiful example of Romanesque architecture. It has undergone considerable changes from its original 12th-Century structure and it is one of the elements of greatest interest in the village.
The most interesting aspect brought to light by restoration work is the magnificent fresco cycle covering the interior walls of the Tasso noble chapel, painted in the 15th-16th century. It shows a variety of themes, and an excellent execution. Considerable variation in style – as the colored stripes – can be seen in the different panels of the fresco.
The figures of St. George, St. Vincent, St. Stephen and St. Agatha are well-painted; the Adoration of the Magi is admirable; but the finest of all is the panel of the Miracle of St. Giles, protector of farriers, a scene of considerable historical interest for its depiction of settings, clothing and tools from the period.
Little, but important village. We may say that here was “invented” the postal service. According to documents, Cornello is the home of Omodeo Tasso and other members of this “postmaster” family. Mail was first carried on foot, and later the service was improved with use of horses, dispatch riders, and mail coaches. The Tasso family organized itself into a private company, the Compagnia dei Corrieri, and through its various branches, it succeeded in obtaining contracts for handling mail first in the Republic of Venice and, later, in the 1400-1500s, in the Papal States, in the State of Milan, and in all the lands of Europe dominated by the Hapsburg empire. The family Tasso – this surname gave origin to the same word of “taxi” – still survives at nowadays in the german Thurm und Taxis family.
Cornello dei Tasso is one of the villages in the province of Bergamo that has best preserved its medieval structure. At one time the village was the center of trade with the Valtellina along the Via Mercatorum, and it had an important market. At the end of the 1500s its commercial fortune began to decline. Its centuries of isolation helped preserve the original layout of the village, which is characterized by the superimposing of four levels of buildings. In the lower part, a number of buildings are aligned horizontally, overhanging the Brembo river , which show the original fortified character of the village. On the upper level there is the street with porticos, topped by stone arcades, covered by a wooden beam ceiling and paved with cobblestones.
In the pics: the fresco stripes and a street with porticos in Cornello dei Tasso (Bergamo, Milan Area, Italy).