via Emilia Centro, 283 - site of Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena - Modena - MO - 41100
The ancient church of San Biagio was erected on the stretch of the Via Emilia between Via Malatesta (once the Mallore quarter) and Via Carteria (once the Carderia quarter) where today the palace of the Montecuccoli degli Erris stands, head office of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena.
The earliest mention of the church dates back to 1189. It was destroyed at the beginning of the 16th century and was reconstructed in the same century: the façade was on Via Malatesta and the apse with steeple or bell-tower in Via Carteria. As part of the reconstruction work of this stretch of Via Emila, wanted by Francesco III, among other buildings also the church of San Biagio was demolished in 1775 as can be read in the chronicles of the time. In 1768 the parish of San Biagio was abolished and transferred to the church of the Carmelites, today San Biagio of Carmine. The Conti Munarini palace was constructed on the church and rectory grounds on design of Raimondo Cavazzuti, which subsequently became the estate of the Montecuccoli degli Erri family.
Substantial work designed and directed by Vincenzo Maestri in the last decade of the 20th century on behalf of the marquis Giuseppe Montecuccoli degli Erri gave the palace - created by joining several buildings - the appearance it has today. The most significant work carried out inside the palace was the monumental staircase. On the outside not only the façade on the Via Emilia but also those on Via Malatesta and Carteria were completely refurbished. The rooms on the main floor are decorated with good-quality frescoes and stuccoes.
The frescoes in the hall of honour deserve particular attention: in a frame in the centre of the vaulted ceiling Apollo is depicted riding the Sun carriage surrounded by the Hours and preceded by Aurora, very similar to the fresco painted by Guido Reni in the Casino Rospigliosi Pallavicini of Rome. Around this a further four paintings depict scenes from the life of Bacchus: the childhood of Bacchus to the east, the meeting of Bacchus and Arianna on the island of Nasso to the north, an inebriated silenus on a donkey to the west and the Triumph of Bacchus to the south. The frescoes appear to have been inspired by the 17th century frescoes of Giovanni Boulanger in the Bacchus Gallery of the Ducal Palace of Sassuolo. Recognisable in the hall is the work of a neoclassic artist of the early 19th century, in all likelihood Giuseppe Zoni, of whom pictorial renovation work in the palace of the marquis Giuseppe Carandini in Via dei Servi is documented. The wall frescoes, in particular the round and almond-shaped ones, framed by garlands of flowers held by putti and harpies, representing a silenus and a maenad with double flute facing the sides of the east window, two maenads with crotali facing the sides of the north window, the Triumph of Arianna on the south wall and a silenus and a satyr on the south wall, are claimed to be works of Fermo Forti of Carpi. In all likelihood also the repainting work of the hall is his merit, as he himself recalls in his autobiographical memoirs written at the end of the century, carried out at the same time as the building reconstruction work designed and directed by Vincenzo Maestri.