Last update: May 25, 2024.

Palazzo della Pilotta (The Pilotta Palace)

Palazzo della Pilotta, Parma, Italy
Palazzo della Pilotta
Teatro Farnese in the Palazzo della Pilotta, Parma, Italy
Teatro Farnese in the Palazzo della Pilotta

The Pilotta, conceived as a building to be used for the services of the Court as integration with the Ducal Palace, is a vast complex of bodies on which several architects worked in different periods.

Construction began most probably before 1583 with construction of the “Corridore”, that is an “arm” that extended from east to west (today occupied by the Petitot Gallery of the Palatine Library), a covered walkway that connected the ancient Viscontea Fortress to a nucleus of houses occupied by the Farnese family upon their arrival in Parma.

The works, interrupted with the death of Duke Ottavio (1586), were resumed in the early months of 1602 under Ranuccio I, a lover of grandiose and severe buildings suited to affirming his power and were completed in 1611, leaving the site in an unfinished state without having constructed the imposing facade towards the “Ghiaia”.

After the death of Ranuccio I (1622), Cardinal Ottavio Farnese called Girolamo Rainaldi from Rome to assist the architect Battistelli, but works around the building site made no progress.

On the north-east side the construction of the buildings arose next to the Dominican monastery and the pre-existing Gothic church of Saint Peter the Martyr, which the Farnese tried in vain to demolish, and the voluminous Palace thus closed around three large courtyards known as Pilotta or Saint Peter the Martyr, by Guazzatoio and Della Rocchetta.

The monumental scissor staircase, covered by an octagonal cupola, which leads to the Museo d’Antichità (Museum of Antiquities) and the first floor, and where entry to the Farnese Theater and the National Gallery can be found, as well as the Palatine Library, is the first example in Italy of an “Imperial” staircase.

Major Interventions in the form of restorations and internal restructuring to Palazzo Pilotta occurred between 1822-24 under the direction of Nicola Bettoli, assisted by Paolo Toschi.

On 13 May 1944 a terrible bombing destroyed a large part of the west and south wings, including the Teatro Farnese, which were rebuilt in the years immediately following the end of the war.

The National Gallery in the Palazzo della Pilotta, Parma, Italy
The National Gallery in the Palazzo della Pilotta
The National Gallery in the Palazzo della Pilotta, Parma, Italy
The National Gallery in the Palazzo della Pilotta

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