Cimitero monumentale

The Monumental Cemetery

After having built the Church of Santa Maria, your average citizen would have been buried where the current churchyard and the Oratory of Saint Anthony of Padua lie, while noblemen and the clergy were granted the privilege of being entombed within the church.

After 1750 the cemetery was moved to its current position in a bid to make more space for the monumental steps, thus occupying the central area of the Potter’s field. The cemetery was expanded to the east and west in 1869 and 1878 to ensure the two new chapels by architect Gaspare Fossati and engineer Giovanni Caccia were included in cemetery grounds. In 1917 it was extended to the north, encompassing the colossal steps, the pauper’s grave, the magnificent columbarium and the new chapels. Priceless marble statues were created to guard the burial place of illustrious regional personalities: the Caccia chapel, adorned by small spires, a nod to the typical Gothic lines found in Lombardy; the graffiti by Lassar from Vienna, which decorate the outside of Teucro Isella’s chapel, hosting a marble representation of the Virgin Mary by sculptor Andreoletti. If you ascend to the new cemetery, you’ll find works by sculptor Leonardo Maspoli, Apollonio Pessina, and the impressive mausoleum of tenor Bakanoff designed by Antonini. Famous Ticino artists have filled the area with tombstones, busts, and symbolic figures, all resting on the large columbarium. Pay special attention to Ratti’s work, who sculpted the figure of a Winged Justice on Bernaschina’s tomb found in the pauper’s field, and a musical angel by Andreoletti. Another highlight is the bronze sculpture near Carlo Bombieri’s tomb, made by famous British artist Henry Spencer Moore (1898 - 1986) who was inspired by the human body. His statues are often women, a symbol of fertility, or supine figures, all underscoring how man is part of nature. A sign of hope and faith in humanity. Today, Morcote’s cemetery is dubbed small Staglieno due to its wealth of artistic works, referring to the monumental cemetery in Genoa, considered amongst the most important monumental cemeteries in Europe and an outdoor museum of bourgeoisie art from the second half of the 19th century.