Churches and Museums
Duomo di Santo Stefano
The imposing and spectacular “Duomo di Santo Stefano” overlooks the landscape of Casalmaggiore. The building is shaped as a Greek cross, and it features side chapels, deep choir stalls and a majestic dome. It was built according to the design of Fermo Zuccari in the middle of the 19th C.. Inside, it is enriched with valuable works from important painters such as Giovan Battista Trotti and Giuseppe Diotti. It also hosts the eighteenth-century reproduction of the “Madonna di Santo Stefano”, originally painted in 1540 by “Parmigianino” for the old St. Stephen’s church, but now located in Dresden.
Santa Maria dell’Argine
Built of stone and standing alone in the green fields, leaning against the main embankment of the Po River, this small church is one of the most romantic and evocative in Casalmaggiore, and its position close to the river is testament to the original location of the suburb of Vicobellignano before the continual and threatening floods of the Po River eventually forced the inhabitants to move to a more internal and protected area. The building itself also generates a certain interest because of how the Romanesque bell tower (attesting the ancient origins of the church) harmoniously coalesces with the seventeenth century façade. Internally, the church’s original frescoes have been removed and transferred to the parish church for conservation.
The Diotti Museum collections show the artistic production of the territory from the mid-eighteenth century to the present day. The Museum opened in 2007, and is located in the former residence of Giuseppe Diotti, a famous neoclassical painter from the first half of the nineteenth century. After many years teaching at the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, Diotti returned to live in his native Casalmaggiore and started a sort of private academy frequented by local painters. In addition to the works of Diotti, the museum houses paintings by the artist’s teachers, staff and students, along with works from the major local artists of the twentieth century (e.g. Goliardo Padova, Gianfranco Manara and Tino Aroldi).
In addition to the galleries, one section of the museum is also devoted to the recreation of the, artist's studio, done using original furnishings and equipment from the artist’s house.
A separate section displays collections from the "Bottoli" School of Design, an ancient school of arts and crafts in the centre of Casalmaggiore.
Monastero di Santa Chiara
Santa Chiara was founded in 1504 and expanded during the eighteenth century, when it became one of the richest and most important monasteries in Lombardy. From the outside the church’s octagonal shape and arched balconies really catch the eye. Inside, there are valuable paintings from local artists, as well as a small and perfectly preserved eighteenth-century organ. This section of the building represented the public church; an adjoining rectangular and barrel-vaulted building was the church used by the nuns – it is decorated with fascinating frescoes. Nowadays the entire complex is home to the “Santa Chiara Foundation”, and also features a conference center and a guesthouse.
Santuario della Beata Vergine della Fontana
This shrine dating back to 1463 is located outside the town, along the road that leads to Sabbioneta. It is well known that even before the year 1000 a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady was built next to a fountain or pit, and it served travelers to quench their thirst: the fresh water spring was called “Pozzo di Santa Maria (Saint Mary’s Well)”. In 1320, according to tradition a miracle took place: a poor man who was born blind regained his sight by bathing with “the water of Our Lady”. After the occurrence of this miracle the chapel was replaced with a small shrine, which expanded over time. Noteworthy features of the shrine include the terracotta portal, some precious frescoes and the altar frontals (made using the “Scagliola” technique). The tombstone of the painter Francesco Mazzola, known as “Parmigianino”, is also here in this shrine.
Museum of Bijou
Established in 1986, the Museum of Bijou is located a few steps away from Piazza Garibaldi, in the basement of the eighteenth century “College of the Holy Cross”, a large building that also houses the “Mortara” library and the Concert Hall. This unique museum displays a specialized collection of industrial heritage consisting of more than 20,000 items, all produced in factories in Casalmaggiore between the late nineteenth century and 1970s. The halls of the museum display machine tools, photographs and catalogs documenting the "golden age" of Casalmaggiore, a period of industrial boom unparalleled in Italy,. Attached to the museum there is an educational workshop with equipment for metal smelting, welding and plating.