UNESCO defines public space as, ‘an area or place that is open and accessible to all peoples, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age or socio-economic level”. According to this definition, many places belong to this category, like parks, squares, and museums. At the same time, most people are not aware of this public heritage.
Every time I go to the University, on my way I pass through the most known places of Gorizia, like the castle, the main squares, and streets. Each place is a special part of Gorizia, and it is part of its history. There is a place which always captures my attention more than others. Its entrance is a stone arch at Piazza Sant’Antonio, no. 6, and I always ask myself: “What is hidden beyond the majestic arch? What is over there?”. At a first sight, it is a grim arch, which suggests austerity.
When I cross the threshold, the austerity suddenly disappears. I find a beautiful courtyard, and a majestic palace, with many windows, and ivy on the wall. There are a big staircase and a big door. I am impressed and surprised.
After a short research, I discover that the ancient name of the Palace was Schoenhaus, which means “Beautiful House”. Actually, it is one of the most beautiful places in Gorizia, and for this reason, it is a precious historical and artistic heritage of the city.
Palazzo Lantieri was built in 1500, when Maximilian, the Holy Roman Emperor, gave Schoenhaus’feud to Lantieri family. However, the most ancient part of the Palace is Schoenhaus Gate, and dates back to 1300. It was the entrance of the city: who wanted to go in Gorizia had to pass through Shoenhaus gate. For this reason, Palazzo Lantieri is known also as the point of connection between east and west.
I have had the honour to meet the Countess, Carolina Levetzow Lantieri, the daughter of the Baron, Charles Levetzow Lantieri and the Countess, Dorothea Saurma-Hoym, for an interview. Thanks to her stories, I have discovered the origins of her noble family. Lantieri family is one of the most ancient noble families of Europe. They have lived in Palazzo Lantieri for more than five centuries, and they still live there. All over the world, most noble palaces are museums, and noble families no longer live there. Therefore, Palazzo Lantieri is unique.
As the Countess says, through the centuries, the common denominator of the Lantieris has been the patronage of arts. Artists and intellectuals, like Goldoni, Goethe and Casanova, were guests of Palazzo Lantieri. Nowadays, this tradition still continues. During the interview, Madame Lantieri tells me that she loves contemporary arts, and, like her ancestors, she invites many contemporary artists in Palazzo Lantieri. There are large site-specific installations by Jannis Kounellis, Jan Fabre and Michelangelo Pistoletto. The most significant is the permanently installed Mittel European mirror by Michelangelo Pisteoletto in the ceiling of the main room.
Palazzo Lantieri still welcomes artists and intellectuals, maintaining its role as the meeting point of cultural exchanges. At the same time, Palazzo Lantieri welcomes all people who are interested in knowing more about it and its history. In particular, on the first weekends in April and October, the regional event Castelli Aperti opens private castles to the public. During the whole weekend, tours of Palazzo Lantieri are run by the Lantieris. All people have the opportunity to hear the history of Lantieri family through the heirs.
Nevertheless, the Lantieris open the doors of the Palace during the entire year. This is a will of the Baron, Charles Leventzow Lantieri, father of the Countess, Carolina Leventzow Lantieri. He always said:” The door of the Palace must be open: everyone can come inside and see the world historical heritage, and we mustn’t take away this right”.
When I first caught sight of the arch, I could not imagine what was hidden over there. Palazzo Lantieri is not a static museum, it still lives in the eyes and in the hearts of the members of Lantieri family. It changes with them.
After my visit to Palazzo Lantieri, I completely change my mind.
I can compare Palazzo Lantieri to an old and charming man. All around, there is an air of mystery and austerity which takes people far from him. Only the person who strongly desires to cross the threshold can discover the truth. Actually, he is not harsh. He is just waiting with open arms to welcome the guests. It does not matter if he/she is an artist, an intellectual or a tourist. He is ready to share his history, his secrets, and his anecdotes with everyone. Moreover, like all men, he loves his family. He is a father who teaches his sons practical lessons and what he has learnt through the centuries. When the Lantieris talk about the palace, they have a light in the eyes: that is the pride of the old charming man who has stood beyond the stone arch for more than five centuries.
He is not tired. He is waiting for you!!!
This visit has taught me more than what I supposed. Frequently, we have no time to ask questions, and, in particular, to find the answers. In this way, we lose the opportunity to appreciate the heritage that is near to us. Take your time to answer your questions: maybe you can be impressed positively, and you can appreciate also a grim stone arch.