HALL & STAIRS | WATER | PALAZZO DI OMBRE
THE HALL OF MIRRORS
Sacro Monte di Varese, Lombardy, Italy | 1992
There are believed to be more than 300 paesi fantasma (Italian; ghost villages) in Italy, and this abandoned palazzo is just a single house in one of them. Leading from the loggia to the upper rooms, this grand staircase now lies in ruins. On the decaying, bare walls, a splash of coloured panelling provides the last vestige of splendour. The original name of this building is now lost; the villagers just call it the Palazzo di Ombre (Italian; the Palace of Shadows).
Such Renaissance villas would often act as a second home for members of the Italian nobility. Distinct from a maze or labyrinth, the hall of mirrors is a room that uses carefully arranged mirrors to confuse the perception of the audience. The most renowned of these is L’Galerie des Glaces, the central gallery of the Palace of Versailles.
In this hall, as well as originally in the entire house, many mirrors were used to direct light and confuse passage. The overhead skylight brings both daylight and moonlight into this otherwise enclosed corridor, and also focuses on the passing of time, itself filled with clocks and motifs designed to bring the idea of mortality to the viewer and in its near- derelict state, this is made even more poignant.