The Basilica and tower of San Prosper provide an extraordinary scenographic backdrop for visitors to the lovely piazza of the same name.
View from above of the Basilica di San Prospero
The church, built in the 10th century, was rebuilt by Luca Corti and Matteo Fiorentini between 1514 and 1523. The façade, redesigned by Giovan Battista Cattani in the mid 1800s, has a prominent statuesque appearance as a result of alternating niches and cornices.
Facade of San Prospero, built by Giovan Battista Cattani (1748-53) with sculptures by Angelo Finali
Eleven statues of Saints and Patrons adorn the façade. Six lions in red marble, attributed to Gaspare Bigi, are located on the edges of the parvis. Their original placement is unclear.
The inside of the Basilica, with a nave and two aisles, has a Latin cross floor plan with dome.
Dome decorated by Giulio Ferrari, Cirillo Manicardi, Guido Manicardi and Alberto Lugli with Glorification of San Prospero with angels, 1885
Correggio’s masterpiece The Night, which was requisitioned by the Duke of Mantua and is now held in the Dresden Art Gallery, was originally located in the fifth chapel on the right. The sixth chapel on the right holds two beautiful paintings by Tiarini. The apse concha features a marvelous cycle of fresco paintings by Camillo Procaccini (Bolognese artist) which portrays the “Last Judgement”.
Camillo Procaccini, Heaven, Resurrection of the Dead and Hell, 1585-87
Noteworthy among these scenes of powerful realism and rawness are: Resurrection of the Dead and The Burial of Christ. Still other beautiful frescos by Procaccini adorn the main chapel (the Cardinal Virtures). Thanks to its refined technique, the splendid wood choir (by the De Venetiis of 1546) inlaid with rural landscapes, still lifes, and urban scenes, is a masterpiece of inlay decoration and carving, techniques which became established in Reggio Emilia as early as the mid 1400s.
Wooden choir by Cristoforo and Lorenzo Genesini between 1457 and 1461. Later rebuilt by Cristoforo and Giuseppe De Venetiis 1545-46
View of the upper order choir stalls
The splendid Our Lady of the Assumption, work of Tommaso Laureti and Ludovico Carracci, was completed in 1602. The left transept contains a beautiful sixteenth century Crucifixion by Prospero Sogari.
The eighteenth century style of the façade provides contrast to the harsher sixteenth century style of the Tower.
Prospero Sogari, known as Clemente, Blessed Virgin with Child, 1558
Tower of the Basilica di San Prospero
Construction of the tower began in 1535, under the direction of Reggian architects Leonardo, Alberto and Roberto Pacchioni, based on prior plans carried out by sculptor Cristoforo Ricci (know as Rossino dei Lasagni).
Tower raised between 1536-70 by Leonardo, Alberto, Roberto and Bernardino Pacchioni. Designed by Cristoforo Ricci around 1515; designs approved by Giulio Romano in 1538
In 1538, the project was handed over to architect Giulio Romano who worked in nearby Mantova.
View from via della Torre
The initial project for the octagonal tower planned for the top and decorations to be in the various different architectural orders: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite.
The descent from the belfry
This however was not to be. Ricci began the sculptures on the first floor of the tower in the Doric order; After his death, sculptor Prospero Sogari continued them, completing the third order of the tower in Corinthian style in 1555. Further work was carried out between 1563 and 1570 by Alberto Pacchioni who, however, left the job unfinished.