The Bocchirale Room
The Bocchirale Room, linking the courtyard to the garden, contains a splendid 17th century French tapestry dotted with small pearls and showing exotic animals. It came originally from Chateau Lux in Burgundy, but was bequeathed to a member of the family. There is also a magnificent classical male bust that can be dated from the early 1500s and is probably the work of Antonio Lombardo. The room also features a remarkably fine gate in wrought iron made by Giulio Pellegrinelli and a bust fo Christ by Alvise da Ca’ dating from the early 1700s.
Four trumped-shaped terracotta vases painted with chinoiseries and dating from the late 1700s can also be admired in this room.
The Red Room
In the Red Room, hanging alongside the oval landscapes by Brescianino, are portraits of Giampaolo Meli Lupi and his wife Ottavia Rossi. A note of undoubted quality in the furniture of the room are the sofa and armchairs, upholstered and personally embroidered in petit point by Princess Anna Meli Lupi di Soragna, born Grillo of the Dukes of Mondragone and who lived in the 19th century. A carved and gilded pinth supports a series of large 18th century Japanese vases from Himara.
The Old Billiard Room
The tour continues on to the Old Billiard Room, also known as the Ancestors’ Gallery, with the 18th century billiard table, enhanced by a 16th century Cordova hide cover.
The family portraits, of which the most worthy of mention is undoubtedly the painting portraying the enigmatic Donna Cenerina, hang on the walls.
The exquisite simple fireplace in this room is the work of Alberto Oliva.
The Stuccowork Room
The next stop on the tour is the Stuccowork Room, a large square hall sumptuosly decorated in the most typical late 17th century Baroque style by Ferdinando and Francesco Galli, known as the ‘Bibiena’ brothers, who painted the ceiling with scenes from the glorious history of the Meli Lupi family and their victories against the Ottomans. in the service both of the Holy Roman Empire, and of the Venetian Republic. Indeed, the symbols of the Imperial Eagle and the Lion of St. Mark are alternated in the four corners of the room above a head of a Turk.
The paintings surrounded by stuccowork, again by the Bibiena brothers, are of very high quality, as are the classical-style scenes decorating the walls of the same room.
The Poets’ Gallery
The Poets’ Gallery is divided into three sections: the first, frescoed by the Bibiena brothers, repeats the decorative motifs of the Stuccowork Room; the second, frescoed with literary and classical subjects by Giovanni Motta, a painter from Cremona, is the longest at no less than 62 metres; while the third section is devoted to the temple of Apollo, the god of poetry, accessed by climbing four steps. The decorations of this last area are inspired mainly by the swan motif, the figure that symbolically represents Apollo.
The Poets’ Gallery contains the herms of twelve of the greatest bards of all times. Around them are depicted the main motifs of the poetry of each of them and some of their most significant verses are reproduced: Italy is represented by Dante, Petrarch, Ariosto and Tasso, the Latin world by Horace, Virgil, Ovid and Lucretius, while classic Greece finds its witnesses in Homer, Sophocles, Pindar and Anacreon.
The Gallery is remarkable due to its perfect acoustic too.
Once it was possible to go from this area into the theatre designed by Bibiena, but it is no longer in existence.
The Santa Croce Chapel
Certainly also worth a visit is the Santa Croce Chapel, built in the early 17th century as an oratory and family tomb. Here lie the remains of Ugolotto Lupi (d. 1351) and Francesco Meli Lupi (d. 1669) whose curious epitaph, personally dictated by him while still alive, is still legible: Quivi giace a marcir entro l’avello nudo senza vigor, vile, fetente, un lupo a venir celeste agnello (Here lies a wolf, rotting within the bare grave without strenght, worthless and fetid, to become a heavenly lamb).
The oratory was built by Vigilante Petardi of Cremona for the Marchese Giampaolo of Soragna in the early 17th century and was used for two centuries as the family tomb.
This holy building, in Baroque style, contains and altar made from various kinds of marble, the work of Pietro Oliva of Parma, while the altarpiece, showing the Crucifixion, is by Giovanni Bolla.
On the right-hand side, built into the wall, are the remains of Ugolotto Lupi’s stone sarcophagus, dating from 1351, a funerary monument recomposed here by Tomba in 1821 after removal from the gothic church of San Francesco al Prato in Parma. It has an interesting marble relief by the Lombard sculptor Giovanni A. Amadeo, showing an ‘Ecce homo’ and bearing the inscriptions ‘Diophebus Lupus fecit fare 1470’ and ‘L.A. de Amadeis fecit hoc opus’.
The Dining Room
The Dining Room, remarkable for its giled carvings, contains four fine 18th century oval paintings by Felice Boselli, representing still lifes with figures, enclosed in 18th century frames by Francesco Seracchi, who probably also made the carve chest of drawers. The ceiling is decorated with a fresco by Pietro Ferrari, a painter from Cremona, depicting Giampaolo III and his son Diofebo dressed as Roman warriors who are overseeing the building of the church of San Rocco in Soragna in 1661. The room also contains a valuable collection of white and blue plates made at the Savona factory and dating from the 18th century.
The Arms Room
The Arms Room contains a collection of weapons used by feudal guards in the 16th and 17th centuries. Amongst the various types of offensive and defensive weapons. including halberds, flintlocks, helmets, swords, ancient sabres and an 18th century Spanish flag, all stricly original, there is an excellently preserved magnificent 17th century iron canon.
The room also contains a fragment of a leather standard bearing the Meli Lupi family coat of arms.
The Nuns’ Gallery
According to tradition, the cells of the nuns in the family were located in the Nuns’ Gallery. This gallery is now used as a kind of costume museum. exhibiting an antique sedan chair (18th century). a crib with the family coat of arms inlaid on it (19th century). a roasting spit, a curious velocipede (19th century), a perambulator (19th century), an electrostatic machine ( 18th century) and a wine amphora found in the sea close to Corsica. A collection of prints showing the castles in the States of Parma decorate the walls and the furniture dates from the 18th century. The room also contains an interesting collection of photographs and autographs of famous personages as well as portraits of important members of the Farnese family. There are additionally four showcases containing 18th century costumes and clothing, the decorations awarded in the past to members of the family, objects found in archaeological remains as well as more arms, both antique and modern, from various Countries.