The Museum is located inside a modern building next to the Church of Saint Mary, which is an important part of the visit.
The Museum collects the most precious pieces of the artistic heritage of the parish church of Scaria and other valuable works which were donated by the Town Council of Lanzo, by the Magistri Intelvesi Cultural Association and by the nearby parish church of Pellio Inferiore.
The exhibition is arranged in theme areas, one is dedicated to the works of two artists of the Intelvi Valley, Ercole Ferrata (Pellio Inferiore, 1610 – Rome, 1686) and Carlo Innocenzo Carloni (Scaria, 1686-1775), another contains a selection of liturgical vestments and objects, another still is dedicated to the Ornamental Setting for Forty Hours’ Celebration, known as ‘Paradisin’, for which an appropriate place was chosen.
You can also admire some 16th century frescoes detached from the house of the De Allio family in Scaria and from the Church of Saint Mary; the latter ones, together with fragments that can still be seen on the nave walls, convey an image of the early decorative plan of the building before Diego Francesco and Carlo Innocenzo Carloni turned it into a Baroque temple.
The paintings exhibited in the Bookshop provide an original interpretation of the current aspect of the church. The paintings show the artistic flair of Piero Gauli (Milan, 1916-2012), a painter sentimentally and professionally tied to the Intelvi Valley, in particular to Verna, seat of a Museum dedicated to him.
The wooden statuettes sculpted by Ercole Ferrata and other artists of his workshop between the 1670s and 1680s are the most valuable pieces of the Museum of Sacred Art of Scaria. In the museum you can also admire a superb portrait, traditionally attributed to Carlo Maratta, of the famous artist from Pellio Inferiore, who worked in Rome.
Other remarkable pieces are some figurative sketches and altar projects by Diego Francesco Carloni and some paintings by his brother Carlo Innocenzo, which show his talent as a portraitist and a painter of religious subjects. The works exhibited in Scaria, produced between 1744 and 1752, are of great historical interest, as they portray members of the local families who supported the career of the two brothers in Austria and Germany.
Giovanni Battista Carlone (Genoa, around 1603 – Parodi Ligure, around 1684), of the Carloni family from Rovio, Ticino, painted David and Abigail’s encounter, a typically baroque work showing Roman and Ligurian influences.
In fact, many families of artists from the Intelvi Valley moved to Genoa and Liguria, among them the Orsolino from Ramponio, the family of Tommaso (Ramponio ?, 1587 – Genoa, 1675), who is thought to be the author of the Virgin with Child, a marble statue that, after being restored, can now be admired in one of the museum rooms.
The other Marian sculpture, once exhibited in a chapel in Scaria, was created by an unknown artist of the Intelvi Valley. Another important cycle of frescoes dating back to the 16th century comes from the village of Scaria: the ones representing religious themes were detached from the Church of Saint Mary, whereas the others, portraying Domenico De Allio and other allegorical and decorative themes, were originally found in the house of the respected De Allio family from the Intelvi Valley.
Four paintings representing Saint John the Baptist, Saint John the Apostle, Saint Margaret of Antioch and Saint Susanna, which were once in the Oratory of Our Lady of the River, in Pellio Inferiore, were created by an early 16th century original painter linked to the Pozzi family from Valsolda.
Further outstanding evidence of the artistic and religious vitality of the valley is the so called Paradisin (Little Heaven), an altar piece made of a gilded wooden throne with an architectural setting behind. Donated by Carlo Innocenzo Carloni in 1752, it was painted with volute-like motifs by the decorator Giuseppe Coduri from Como, known as Vignoli (Como, 1720 – Como, 1802).
According to the local tradition, Carloni also donated a radial monstrance made in a Milanese workshop, whose hallmark can be seen on the base, to the parish church of Scaria, to be placed inside the throne during Forty Hours’ Celebration. This ritual is still performed every year, before the beginning of Lent, when the ornament is put up on the altar in the Church of Saint Mary.
The monstrance donated by Carloni is one of the most valuable pieces in the Museum. The oldest piece of the collection is the “Antelamica” Cross, which is a processional cross made of golden copper and rock crystal dating back to the 12th century; its name comes from the “Antela Valley”, which was the ancient name of the Intelvi Valley. Together with the crosses from Rovenna, Cademario and Corzonesa in Ticino and from Bema and Villa di Chiavenna, this cross is one of the most ancient finds of the Diocese of Como.
Another processional cross that is worthy of attention is the one attributed to Francesco di Ser Gregorio from Gravedona, a goldsmith who worked in his hometown between the 15th and the 16th centuries.
The other ornaments exhibited in the Museum, mostly dating back to the 18th century, are examples of the excellence of the Lombard workshops. Goblets, pyxes, monstrances, altar cards, thuribles and incense boats were intended to show the attention the faithful had to the beauty of the ornaments used during liturgical practices. A decorated altar set up in the exhibition area illustrates this wealth, which has a high symbolic value and culminates with the Eucharistic Celebration. On the altar, one can admire 18th century altar cards with the Mass texts, as well as a “scagliola” paliotto (altar front), a typical artistic work of the Intelvi” Valley produced according to a technique using stucco imitating marble inlays.
In a dedicated area, you can admire liturgical vestments such as chasubles, copes and tunicles, woven in precious materials, which show the high manufacturing levels achieved over the past centuries.