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The '' gentle '' fortitude of San Giustino
A visit to Castello Bufalini, from massive fortress to a pleasant urban residence

In the centre of San Giustino a green space opens to reveal the presence of a strengthened fortress, the Castello Bufalini, initially a defensive building, and luxurious residence then. Its construction goes back to 1480, to the epoch in which Città di Castello, besieged by the enemies, decided to set a bank planning a defensive structure that protected the surrounding territory. The ambitious project revealed being more arduous to be realised than the expectation, since wars and famines dried up the boxes of the treasure, depriving of money for the building of the Castle. So in 1487 the project was given from Città di Castello to the rich owner Nicolò Manno di Bufalini to finish the construction of the castle, with the bond to strengthen its defensive feature. The work was completed under the direction of Giovanni and Camillo Vitelli. But the times change and the wind blows in another direction. The Renaissance is near. The family Bufalini, of fact feudal of the place, prospers, and during 1500 transforms the fortress strengthened in a residential villa worthy of the best European courts. Than rise refined gardens, rooms richly frescoed, first-quality furniture and so on. A capable painter was called to decorate the inside rooms, the Doceno, at that time Cristofano Gherardi, very admired also by the Vasari. This way the transformation of Castello Bufalini begins, the most Renaissance style among all the fortitudes. ''. a sixteen years old boy, called Cristofano. '' ''. and for nickname Doceno, Guido's Gherardi son, man of honourable family in that city, attending with natural inclination and a lot of profit to the painting, he drew and painted so well and with so much grace that was amazing. '' In this way Giorgio Vasari describes the talent of Cristofano Gherardi, the Doceno, born in 1508 and dead in 1556. Always from Vasari we learn that the Doceno moved his first footsteps at Borgo San Sepolcro, when Raffaellino dal Colle, noticing the cleverness of the young painter, he wanted him in his shop. As every original personality that respects, he had troubled and stormy stories, but is known that the art doesn't flourish in the ease and in the luxury. In 1530, also to satisfy his artistic curiosity, he decides to join the army. Here he meets for the second time the Vasari, after having known him in 1528 at San Sepolcro, who appreciates him and wants him as stable and personal help. Vasari convinces the Doceno to follow him at Città di Castello, where he was directing some works of restructuring, together with Battista della Bilia. In this phase Gherardi gets notable abilities in the pictorial art: '' They did all so well and with so much grace, and maximally Cristofano, that even a practical and consumed art teacher not would have done so well; and that experimenting himself more in that work, it became practical and capable in drawing and painting. ''

But in 1537 he is suspected to be involved in a plot against the Medici and is banished from Florence. He's forced to accept servile and humiliating jobs at Alessandro Vitelli's to not be reported. On the edge of the crash, physical and financial, in 1538 he abandons the Vitelli's to go to Castello Bufalini, where he painted room after room, for 16 years almost without interruption. '' It was in this time at San Giustino in Città di Castello a so called painter Cristofano Gherardi from Borgo to San Sepolcro, who, endowed by the nature of a marvellous talent to do grotesque and figures, came to Rome to visit it; (.) rather returned to San Giustino, he has painted various rooms here in Bufalini's building, all very beautiful. ''

They are the years in which Castello Bufalini, probably really thanks to the intervention of Vasari, suffers light but meaningful changes. An ample open gallery and a beautiful portal on the façade appeared, a grandiose stairway and the battlement were turned into a pleasant communication trench. Fortitude gradually lost its strongest sour characters to become more refined and to open to the society. The inside appear the marvellous frescos of the Doceno, visible at the ground floor in the Sala degli Dei Pagani, where are drawn myths and pagan divinity in scenes from the Metamorphosis of Ovidio. The Sala di Prometeo, represents the titan caught by Gherardi in the action to steal a red hot spark from the wagon of the sun. To the upper floor we find two vain of small dimensions, on whose vaults the painter has painted scenes that represent Jupiter with his loves and the rape of Ganimede. Painted the room in the tower, the abbot Bufalini liked it so much to make it paint again: '' The painted room, because the abbot liked it so much, it made him do another similar; to which desiring to make some ornaments of plaster and not having marble dust to mix it, he used to this purpose some white veined stones of the river, its dust was good and hard taking: in which ornaments of plasters Cristofano made then some histories of Romans facts, so well done that was marvellous. ''

These few sentences are a brief summary of the activity of the Doceno, Cristofalo Gherardi at Castello Bufalini, narrated by the alive voice of an exception witness, the Vasari, that with his Vite (lifes), he has handed down to the posters precious details, criticisms and judgements that constitute the base of the whole history of the western art.
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