Palazzo Vertemate Franchi – Cortinaccio di Prosto-Piuro-SO – INDUSTRIA AUGET IMPERIUM

The mansion is situated in the Municipality of Piuro-SO at the northern extreme of the community of Prosto at Cortinaccio, in a somewhat isolated position in relation to the village itself.

The actual date of the building’s construction was never placed on record but in 1577 the mansion was completely restored.


Property of the Municipality of Chiavenna

Notification no. 496 of the 10th December 1911

Palazzo 20/01/1928-24/11/1937 n.143 under law 364 of 1939

Outbuildings and gardens 29/04/2005 n.328


The Palazzo Vertemate di Cortinaccio di Piuro, together with the Palazzo Besta di Teglio, are the most prestigious mansions within the Province of Sondrio.

The complex was conceived as a country residence, whilst falling within the category of a Lombardy Renaissance Villa, represented not only by its highly agreeable location, but also as a feature of the “negotium” of the family that it is to say a genuine and working agricultural enterprise.

The building is rectangular in design and sits within a vast garden area which boasts a vineyard, vegetable plot, orchards, chestnut wood and a typical Italian-style garden, all defined within an impressive stone surrounding wall which brings into play in some sections the typical and characteristically modest “garof” phenomenon to be found in all the surrounding woods (made from a collection of locally-sourced stone).

The remarkably simple façade is characterised by the rhythmic symmetry of openings represented by the windows, elevated by the small Italian garden, flower beds, balustrades, an impressive stone fish tank all of which combine to endow a perceptible mark of quality and style.

A notable architectural feature on the most important façade is the entrance portal with an ashlar inscribed with the names of the Vertemate brothers “Gulielmus and Aluisius”, on top of which sits the family coat of arms in local potstone, comprising the castle Ghibellino di Vertemate with the gateway Porta dei Della Porta di Milano crowned by the imperial eagle.

The outstanding elements that mark the extraordinary quality of the stately home are distributed as follows: the entrance Hall of the ground floor, the Jupiter and Mercury living room, the Juno room and that of Perseus, the Music Room, office, kitchen; the library/studio on the Raised ground floor; on the First Floor the dressing room, the room of the Lady of the House, the Napoleon Room; on the second floor the Zodiac Room, the Caryatids Chamber, The Arts Chamber, Bishop’s Chamber, Carducci Chamber, and the Chamber of Devotion.

Historical Events

* The Vertemate hail from a branch of the Della Porta di Milano lineage, inheriting in the early XII Century the lands and castle of Feudo Vertemate and then in 1217 Ruggero Vertemate was appointed Mayor of Piuro.

In 1253 Giovanni and Lanfranco Vertemate founded a particular branch: the Vertemate Franchi family. 1328 saw the Vertemate initiate their own blossoming economic course based on the movement of commerce and also the working of local potstone (pietra ollare): This was to lead them to becoming involved in a European context of trade in cotton and silk, which became even more attractive in 1387 with the development of the Septimer route.

It was a particularly significant time for the region involving many other commercial activities with other important families joining in and the progression was to continue until the XVI century.

In 1512 with the trade route under the supremacy of the Grisons, the enterprises were not only maintained, but their autonomy was increasingly developed, so much so that in 1577 the brothers Luigi and Guglielmo Vertemate were in a position to comprehensively restore the entire mansion.

On the 4th September 1618 an enormous landslide completely overwhelmed the town of Piuro, and included in the death toll were 23 members of the Vertemate Franchi family, however sparing three of Nicholas’ children who happened to be working elsewhere in Europe. Between 1619 and 1632, sons Luigi and Carlo took on the responsibility for the building in Piuro, but in 1695 it would be Francesco and Daniele, Carlo’s offspring who breathed new life into the family. The grandson of Francesco who died in 1879 without an heir brought the dynasty to its end.

In fact the very last to perish in 1892-1893 were the sisters of the last-mentioned, Angelica and Martina who had lived at the mansion with husband Giacomo Del Vecchio, thus bringing the Vertemate Franchi line to a definitive close.

In 1902 Napoleone Brianzi, a Milan antique dealer, and his wife Mina Arrigoni purchased the entire property.

With the death of Brianzi in 1927 the complex entered a further period of decline which coincided with the sale of much of the furniture.

In 1937 Antonio Feltrinelli and Luigi Bonomi bought the property and maintained it right up until the end, that is the final heiress, Eva Maria Sala, wife of Luigi Bonomi.

In 1986 on the death of Eva Maria Sala, the property was bequeathed, by means of Will and Testament, to the Municipality of Chiavenna with the obligation to create a museum and the prohibition on use of any part as housing.





a) Actual archives

Archivio del Consorzio Archivistico della Valchiavenna (ACAV)

Archivio Storico Milanese

Fondo Vertemate (FV)

Archivio di stato di Milano (ASM)

Archivio fotografico del Comune di Milano

Achille Bertarelli, Collection Milano

Authority overseeing Architectural and Landscape Heritage in Milan


Historical Land Register

b) Reports and narrative accounts

The Piuro landslide of 1618. History and images of a devastated Piuro 1995

c) Papers, essays and volumes

– R. Viganò, Luoghi romiti: Piuro (Chiavenna), in “Emporium”, 5 (1897), pp.470-475.

– L. Benapiani, Il Palazzo Vertemate in Piuro, in: Ville e Castelli d’Italia. Lombardia e laghi, Milano 1907.

– N. Brianzi, G. Bertacchi, P. Rajana, Il Palazzo Vertemate in Piuro, Padova 1925 (republished by: L. Benapiani, Il Palazzo…, cit., 1907).

– G. Caligari, Palazzo Vertemate in Piuro (short chronicle of brief period): Quarantennio 1901-1940, in “Chiavenna”, 1, 1962, pp. 137-144.

– R. Sertoli Salis, Il palazzo Vertemate di piuro ovvero: il romanzo di un edificio, in: “La Martinella”, 10, 1967.

– S. Langé, Ville delle Provincie di Como, Sondrio, Varese, Milano 1968, pp. 69-72.

– M. Gianasso, Guida turistica della provincia di Sondrio, Sondrio 1979, p. 392 (breve descrizione del Palazzo).

– AA.VV., Il Palazzo Vertemate Franchi di Piuro, Milano 1989.

* G. Scaramellini, Il “palazzo” Vertemate-Franchi di Cortinaccio in Piuro: a suburban Renaissance villa at the heart of the Alps, in: C. Brusa (a cura di), Ville suburbane, residenze di campagna e territorio. Esempi in Lombardia ed Emilia Romagna (Atti del convegno, Varese, 21-22 settembre 1988), ed. Lativa, Varese 1989.

* A.Colombo,La nobile famiglia De Vertemate Franchi di Piuro –Milano 1969

* F.Frigerio ,Il salone dello Zodiaco della Villa Vertemate Franchi in Piuro. In”Como” III (1932) 12

* Guglielmo Scaramellini ,Il Palazzo Vertemate Franchi di Cortinaccio di Piuro

* Libero Corrieri,Alberto Riva,Germano Mulazzani,Rosanna Pavioni,Sandra Sicoli ,Il Palazzo Vertemate Franchi di Piuro.Milano 1989



On weekends throughout March from 10.00 – 12.00 and from 14.30 – 17.30

From the end of March through to early November from 10.00 – 12.00 and 14.30 – 17.30 except Wednesdays (open if public holiday)

In August open every day

Sundays in November from 14.30 – 17.30

In any other period, group visits can be made by booking in advance.



Piazza Caduti per la Liberta 23022 Chiavenna-SO-

Tel +39 0343 37345 Fax +39 0343 37361 —

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