Of Lombard origin, almost certainly from Bergamo, the Miniscalchi family came to Verona during the years of the Visconti rule (1387-1404).
Founder of the Veronese branch of the family was Zanino: typical figure of the late middle-ages Italian society, he was able to associate to the ancestral practice of trade the foundation and the management of a considerable land property.
In 1407 Zanino Marescalcus, resident in Verona in the quarter of Saint Benedict - which extended towards the western part of piazza Erbe and which also included the present via San Mammaso, where there are the family palaces - obtained the citizenship of Verona. His presence in town, therefore, must be dated back to at least one decade, as the Statutes ordered for the foreigners who aimed at the citizenship grant.
To the third decade of the XVc. dates back the purchase from Zanino Miniscalchi of the vicariate of Saint Zeno in Mozzo nearby Mozzecane, in Veronese territory on the border with the Mantuan one, followed by other numerous purchases in the same territory and by conspicuous real investments in the residence quarter.
In the course of one generation the Miniscalchi family definitely left the trade, devoting to land investments. In 1425 it was united to the "Noble Council" of the town of Verona.
The need to live in a house in accordance with the economic level acquired and with the relationships contracted became noticed in Zanino's children, all the more that one of them, Vianino juniore, got the degree in law, an unquestionable sign of the social ascent of the family.



The painted facade of the Miniscalchi palace in via San Mammaso in a
lithograph painted in water-colours by Pietro Nanin (Verona, 1864).

 

The start of the construction of the palace in via San Mammaso must be dated in the last quarter of the century. The new building included a preexistent house of the fourteenth century with ground open gallery, the remains of which have been brought to light in the porter's lodge of the today's Museum.
The palace facade was conceived as a solemn wing opened by a doorway deeply splayed and by eighteen windows: six ogival single lancet windows and two big tribolate mullioned windows on the first floor, six ogival single lancet windows on the second floor, which were covered with stony hangings.
A little later is the construction of the majestic family chapel in Saint Anastasia's church: in 1506 Alvise Miniscalchi, after having discarded the plans of different artists, such as Liberale da Verona and Giovanni Maria Falconetto, entrusted the task to Angelo di Giovanni, famous for his interventions in the yard of the Council Loggia in piazza dei Signori, in the facade of San Tomaso Cantuariense's church and in other town churches and almost certainly author also of the plan for the facade of the Miniscalchi palace in via San Mammaso.



Chapel Miniscalchi in Saint Anastasia's church in Verona.

 

Several times, in the course of centuries, members of the Miniscalchi family held the first town honours. Many were the prestigious weddings which linked the family to other remarkable families.
In particular, we can remember the wedding between Marcantonio Miniscalchi and Teresa Moscardo (1785), who brought as a dowry, among other things, part of the ancestral home "Museum" put together by Ludovico Moscardo (Verona, 1611-1681), the major learned man of Verona during the seventeenth century.
Historically even more important was the wedding of Luigi Miniscalchi, Marcantonio's son, who in 1808 married Marianna Erizzo, one of the three last descendants of the Venice doge family. Of this marriage was born Francesco, remarkable man for his cultural interests and political activity. Member of Parliament was also his son Marcantonio Abdallah (1844-1906), who was wounded during the Second war of Independence, fighting in the lines of the Sardinian Army.
With his children Franco (1879-1919), Mario (1881-1957), Emilio (1885-1971) and Erminia (1891-1958), who respectively disappeared in Washington, in Verona, in Santiago of Chile and in Chambèry, the Miniscalchi-Erizzo family has come to an end in direct male line.



Coat-of-arms of the Miniscalchi-Erizzo family.

 

The house coat-of-arms, in heraldic words, can be described as a divided coat-of-arms: the first in silver with burning bramble, surrounded by three bands of green ivy; the second, bright blue coloured, with a golden band loaded with a porcupine and the letter E, black coloured, in the direction of the band; surrounded by earl's coronet.

 


© 2001 Copyright Fondazione Museo Miniscalchi Erizzo