House of Forni
Site n. 8 - Angera Open Air Museum
Late 14th-15th century
Half-way along Via Greppi, proceeding from Piazza Parrocchiale, there is another square containing buildings of medieval origin and a bank. Nearby, on the north side, is Casa Forni.
The building may be recognized by the 16th century frescoes that decorate one of the windows in the (recently restored) façade. During rebuilding work begun in 1995 important discoveries were made in a room of this house.
In a first floor chamber frescoes of high quality were uncovered, dating to the late 15th or early 16th century. Although the building is private and the room is not open to the public, the Casa Forni frescoes are one of Angera's most notable artistic treasures: a coffered ceiling overlooks frescoes on all four walls. The upper part features a series of roundels containing the portraits of men and women from the most influential families of the region, as well as those of major figures from the Sforza family, among whom Ludovico il Moro and Bianca Maria Sforza may be recognized. On each side, at the centre of these series of medallions, is a coat of arms. These are of the Besozzi, Castiglioni and Sforza families; the fourth coat of arms has not yet been identified with certainty. The house belonged to the Besozzi family, of which a male member, Ettore, married Clara Castiglioni at the end of the year 1400. Beneath the portraits, all the walls are decorated with knots symbolizing matrimonial ties, flowers and plant motifs.
Research into the building's history and function are still under way. One hypothesis – as yet unproven – is that Botta, Captain of Lake Maggiore, resided with the Besozzi family, at the time the most important in Angera.
Their excellent state of preservation suggests that these paintings may have been hidden not many years after after they were created.