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Photographer's Note

This is the cloister of the Basilica di Sant'Andrea in Vercelli in Piedmont North West Italy.

''The Basilica di Sant'Andrea is the church of a monastery in Vercelli, Piedmont, northern Italy, founded in 1219 by Cardinal Guala Bicchieri and completed in 1227. It represents an early example of Gothic architecture in Italy, inspired by Cistercian models and featuring Romanesque elements as well.

The basilica was built between 1219 and 1227 at the direction of Cardinal Guala Bicchieri, who had just returned from England where he had been papal legate. Bicchieri had received from King Henry III the perpetual rights to the income of Saint Andrew's Abbey in Chesterton, Cambridge. Thanks to this financial support, the cardinal was able to call to Vercelli some monks from Saint-Victor in Paris, giving them responsibility over the new abbey and the hospital to be built for the pilgrims who travelled the Via Francigena. The hospital was begun in 1224. Although the architect is unknown, it is presumed that the Gothic lines of the new edifice were introduced by the French clerics, who included abbot Thomas Gallus, previously a professor in the University of Paris. According to Italian art historian Giulio Carlo Argan, the architect could have been Benedetto Antelami. The style of the Romanesque elements connects the building to the architectural traditions of northern Italy and suggest the hand of an Italian master in the design.

Thanks to Bicchieri's diplomacy, the abbey was able to increase its possessions through donations and privileges from pope Honorius III and emperor Frederick II. Bicchieri died in Rome in 1227, the year in which the basilica was finished.
In the early 15th century a new bell tower was built, in a detached position, on the right side of the church. In the following century the cloister of the monastery was rebuilt, though the original small columns - in groups of four - were kept.

The complex was damaged during the Siege of Vercelli of 1617. During restorations carried out in 1818-1840, the scrinium (travelling case) of Guala Bicchieri was found in the building; it is now in the Civic Museum of Ancient Art in Turin. Other restorations took place in 1927 and 1955-1960.''

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Additional Photos by ALESSANDRO MACCHI (SWEETFREEDOM) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1478 W: 0 N: 2824] (21998)
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