The Palace

The Pastorio Family

The Bondoni Family

The Archive


The Palazzo Pastorio is already recognizable in the plan of Castiglione delle Stiviere printed by Pierre Mortier in 1704. It was a building of simple and severe proportions, located next to the Collegiate Church (now the Duomo), and the Oratory of Disciplines.

The Palace had been purchased, in the second half of the fifteenth century, by Bartolomeo Pastorio, a patrician of Paduan origin, who had settled in Castiglione around 1440 - 1450. The building had undergone an important transformation in the very first years of the seventeenth century, when Fausto (who was the first Abbot of Castiglione), and his brother Prospero (who provided fundamental support to Francesco Gonzaga in the military defense of the city), expanded it, creating, among other things, the large theater and ballroom.

Due to a division between cousins, in the decade between 1750 and 1760 the property of the palace was divided into two parts, which were both enlarged, one to the right and the other to the left, with wings passing "bridge-like" over alleys, then closed with gates. The right half maintained its appearance until the middle of the 20th century, when it underwent heavy modifications. A recent restoration (end of the 20th century) has largely recovered its original shape.

Between 1760 and 1765, the left-hand side - now Palazzo Bondoni Pastorio - underwent renovation by Giovan Giacomo Pastorio, who gave the building its current shape. While the left side was partially extended above the arch above a small street, clearly visible in the plan of the Mortier, the front was raised a few meters, so as to create a second floor. It was thus possible to create a façade of balanced proportions, horizontally divided into three levels: the ground floor marked by two windows and two main doors, decorated with ashlars; the upper floors each with four openings. The main floor has a higher height with classical tympanums, triangular in the centre and arched at the sides, while on the second floor the openings are completed by lower, lighter frames decorated with volutes. The choice of Giovan Giacomo Pastorio, in keeping with the tastes then in vogue among the Lombard aristocracy, responded to the dictates of that late classical baroque, lightened forms, which took the name of "Lombard baroque".

Giovan Giacomo Pastorio died suddenly and prematurely, around 1765. In the following years, Francesco, Giovan Giacomo's eldest son, and then his sons continued the work of celebrating the family and embellishing the palace.

The decoration of the Sala dei Paesaggi on the ground floor dates back to the years between the end of the 18th century and 1824. The ceiling of this room is decorated with monochrome frescoes with the symbols of poetry, music and theatre, while in many small sails the paintings, also monochrome, include, together with landscapes of the upper Mantua and classical ruins, representations of the main possessions of the Shepherds. In a lunette above the entrance door of the hall there is a faithful image of the palace itself.

On the main floor, the three rooms on the front are characterized by decorated ceilings, the central coffered one with floral friezes, the one on the right (on entering) by an architectural breakthrough ceiling, the one on the left by lunettes, in which the coats of arms of the noble families related to the Pastorio are frescoed. On the same floor, towards the inside, there is a large theatre and dance hall.

Francesco Gonzaga


In the entrance hall of Palazzo Bondoni Pastorio is preserved 
the statue of Prince Francesco Gonzaga, dressed as a Roman emperor, made by the sculptor Giovanni Antonio Carra "of Lake Lugano ... living in Brescia", between 1610 and 1617.

The statue had been commissioned in 1609, by the Community of Castiglione, to honour Francesco, who was still a marquis at that time (Castiglione was made a principality in 1612). The marble was to represent him "armed with armor ... with the mantle of the emperor's empire resting his left arm above the elbow of the sword, which is standing, his right hand outstretched low so as to hold in his hand garlands and crowns removable, ie brass or copper, with the order of the Tosone at the neck and a crown on his head. As Bartolomeo Arrighi reports, the statue "was erected in the middle of the small square of S. Sebastiano in Castello".
only in 1617 - that is, after the prince's death,
in October 1616.

In 1706, the French troops - who at that time held the position of Castiglione against the imperial troops - razed the Gonzaga castle to the ground, "using mines and other means of destruction". It is very likely that the statue of Francesco was transported on that occasion to the Pastorio house, as the memory, handed down orally in the family, of a "rescue" carried out by the ancestors in extremis, in a situation of great danger
and excitement of the crowd.

Smeralda Bedulli e Francesco Pastorio, seconda metà sec. XVIII


At least until the end of the 17th century, as long as Castiglione delle Stiviere was a feudal holding and a principality of the Gonzaga, many members of the Pastorio family had an important role in the public life of the town. From the founder Bartolomeo, who came from Padua in the middle of the 15th century in order to be in service to Marquis Rodolfo, to Giovan Giacomo (I), who was at the court of Ferdinando I and Ferdinando II, the last princes of Castiglione, the Pastorios were entrusted with prestigious tasks, including sometimes in government.

As was customary among the aristocracy of that period, the firstborn sons of the Pastorios were mainly warriors in the service of the Gonzaga, at whose court they also had “courtly” roles, that is, they were major-domos of the princes, and knights. Some of the younger sons, who became ecclesiastics, reached responsible positions in the state. Especially during the Counterreformation, when Castiglione became an important religious center, chosen by the Lombardy episcopacy as one of the strongholds for the rules imposed by the Trent Council, the Pastorio Abbots had the opportunity of drawing attention to themselves and of exercising their influence. First of all the archpriest Giovan Battista (II) distinguished himself both by his knowledge and by his political skill. A friend of literates, politicians and cardinals, he was a member of the learned academies of Brescia, and in 1568 solemnly baptized Luigi Gonzaga, who was later acknowledged as a saint. His nephew Fausto was designated the first Abbot of Castiglione in 1606.

Notwithstanding the end of the Gonzaga of Castiglione principality at the beginning of the 18th century, the Pastorios were able to keep their comfortable way of life, thanks to their landed properties and to the silk production. A short but splendid period is recorded particularly between about 1740 to 1789, when the family, taking advantage of the economic renaissance brought by the Teresian period of peace, was able to keep pace with new esthetic patterns and with the enlightenment mentality.




The Bondonis were an ancient noble family, originally from Lonato (Brescia). Toward 1870 Ferdinando settled in Castiglione delle Stiviere, where he was a lawyer and where he remained until his death. He married Eulalia Faini, who was the granddaughter of Paola Pastorio on her mother’s side. Due to complex family events, Eulalia inherited the Pastorio’s palace from her cousins Luigia and Carolina Pastorio. Ferdinando and Eulalia had two children, Luigia, who never married, and Giuseppe, who followed his father’s steps and became a lawyer. In 1914 Giuseppe married Lucia Bellotti, of Acquanegra sul Chiese, and from their union Maria and Giacomo were born. Giuseppe died in 1920, only 42 years old, Lucia lived until 1973. Their daughter Maria (who also never married) lived with her aunt Luigia in Castiglione, where she taught Italian and Latin for 35 years. Following his grandfather’s and father’s steps, Giacomo became a lawyer, working as such to the moment of his death at the age of 92 in 2008. In 1948 he married Gianna Tellera, the daughter of General Tellera. With Maria Simonetta, born from Giacomo and Gianna, and passed away in 2012, the family died out.

M. Simonetta Bondoni Pastorio


After completing his classical studies, Maria Simonetta graduated in 1977 in Museography at the University of Bologna, with a thesis on the artistic heritage of Reggio nell'Emilia.

She then pursued his specialization in Art History, under the guidance of Renato Barilli, with a work on the visual components of contemporary poetry.

From the passion for visual and avant-garde lyric poetry comes the intellectual conversation with the poet Corrado Costa. In 1981 the book "Tacere e tra / dire" appears, in which the critical path traced by Bondoni Pastorio joins Costa's drawings. The edition of this four-handed artist's book appears as a supplement
at Tam Tam magazine, directed by Adriano Spatola.

Between 1978 and 1987 she worked at the Institute for the artistic, cultural and natural heritage of the Emilia-Romagna Region. For the Institute she edited two fundamental censuses of the regional heritage on the territory: the repertoire of historical theatres (1982) and, together with Giulio Busi, a survey on Jewish Culture in Emilia-Romagna (1987), the first on this subject conducted by an Italian Region, and to date the most exhaustive. The study, which has resulted in a volume of over 700 pages, covers urban and architectural evidence (ghettos, synagogues and cemeteries), liturgical furnishings (synagogue furniture and silverware), books and archival documents.

Having left the IBC, Maria Simonetta founded the "Fattoadarte" gallery in Bologna in 1988. The exhibition space is dedicated to the decorative arts of the twentieth century and to design, especially postmodern design. Between 1988 and 1993 she curated, among others, exhibitions by Ettore Sottsass, Massimo Iosa Ghini, Denis Santachiara, Mauro Bellei, Lino Fiorito,
Imelde Corelli Grappadelli, Doriana Chiarini.

Since the late nineties, Maria Simonetta Bondoni Pastorio has dedicated herself to the project of transforming her family's home in Castiglione delle Stiviere into a house-museum. To this end she created a Foundation, to which she gave the precious historical archive of the Bondoni Pastorio, and a wide range of furniture and paintings.

After a long restoration work,
the Museum of Palazzo Bondoni Pastorio opened its doors
in 2009.



In 2008, by order of the Archival Superintendent for Lombardy, the archive of Palazzo Bondoni Pastorio was declared of particularly important historical interest, and subjected to the discipline of the D.L. 22 January 2004. 
The archive consists of 39 parchments (1512-1795), five of which with leaden seal and one with a pendant seal, illuminated diplomas; 24 envelopes (1588-1973) of paper documents relating to the following: poetic compositions; diaries; photographs of the Italian, Albanian and Libyan fronts, conventions, divisions, correspondence of various members of the family and in particular of General Tellera with his wife Zete, successions, divisions, letters of condolence and autographs by Italo Balbo, Mussolini, Vittorio Emanuele III, Iolanda di Savoia); 3 drawings (two in pen, one watercoloured); 5 boxes and 7 photo albums. 
The documentation testifies the patrimonial management of the Pastorio-Bondoni family and its contacts with the Gonzaga princes of Castiglione delle Stiviere. The last direct descendants of the family (Luigia and Carolina) hosted, among others, the founder of the Red Cross, Henry Dunant. Of particular importance is the documentation produced between the end of the 19th century and the first forty years of the 20th century by General Giuseppe Tellera, commander of the troops in Libya during the Second World War, who died in 1941 and was awarded the gold medal for military valour. 
Tellera was in contact with the highest Italian authorities of the Twentieth Century (Balbo, Mussolini, members of the Savoy family and Aosta).

The Foundation has already realized, with its own funds, a digital reproduction of all the archival material. The images relating to part of the documents concerning the Pastorio family are currently available online.

Digital Reproduction 
of the Pasorio family Archive

Starting in 2010, the Foundation has surveyed and studied the materials concerning the stay at the Palace of Henry Dunant,
the founder of the Red Cross:

Orientalista e Viaggiatore. Henry Dunant a Castiglione delle Stiviere, a cura di Maria Simonetta Bondoni Pastorio e Giulio Busi, Castiglione delle Stiviere 2010
«La biblioteca del Palazzo, 1»

The following year, the  transcription and publication, in the form of a volume, of the materials concerning the General Giuseppe Tellera was carried out:

La Libia amara del generale Giuseppe Tellera. Lettere e testimonianze inedite, a cura di Maria Simonetta Bondoni Pastorio, Castiglione delle Stiviere 2012
«La biblioteca del Palazzo, 2»

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