The Town Hall
The construction and decoration of the Town Hall building was completed and inaugurated in 1931, thanks to the project collaboration between the council engineer Augusto Lorini and Tito Chini. The building shows a plain and linear architecture on the outside, but inside there are some original variations, not only on the superficial decoration, but also through the insertion of particular architectural elements.
The first of these is the Great Staircase which connects the entrance-hall on the ground floor with the upper floor, and which occupies a cylindrical space, underlined by fluted columns which compose the handrail and the jambs. According to the testimony of the sculptor Augusto Chini, his brother, Tito Chini, was not extraneous to the project of this stairway, regarding the formal solution, demonstrating that he maintained a total idea of the decoration of an environment, in combination with the surrounding architecture. On the other hand, Pietro Chini, uncle and collaborator of Tito in this endeavor, seems to have had a secondary role, limiting himself to the fulfillment of some pictorial parts. Both the structure and the decoration were based on few geometrical modules, rectangles, diamonds or rhombus, and circles, similar in the design to the glass doors at the entrance-hall.
All the parts in glass and ceramics were produced by the San Lorenzo Furnaces, as always capable of supplying almost all the ornamental elements: for example, the four wall lamps in wrought iron and chalices of opaque glass on ceramic bulbs, or yellow ceramic sections inserted at regular intervals on the cement skirting board. Also, the wooden decorations were based upon Tito’s drawings, like the doors and the benches, then produced by the Bini carpentry.
The strong influence of the Art Déco style is evident in this section with elements with strongly stylised and geometrised lines, in vivid and pure colours. Going up to the upper floor, there are large windows and the mural paintings which cover the semicircular space of the walls with geometrical and allegorical representations. On the ceiling, there is a false round skylight with the same colours and shapes of the glass of the windows. The ceiling, on the other hand, is adorned by a mural painting in red and gold, which preludes to the antique style of the next room; this entrance-hall on the first floor leads into the rooms of the various officials arranged in a hexagonal space.
The walls are decorated with a skirting board in Pompeian red and graffito designs of amphoras, rosettes and gridirons, as a symbol of the martyrdom of St. Lawrence, patron saint of the Council together with St. Martin, also used as the Furnaces’ trademark.
The two saints are painted on the walls facing the Mayor’s room. The painting is made by Tito Chini, in a romantic taste. The doors show the same design of diamonds and circles; these are embedded in cement jambs which reproduce the entrances of antique temples in a schematic manner.
The Mayor’s room is polygonal in shape, the mural decoration, carried out in a few, but efficient, colours on fabric panels alternated with ceramic reliefs, with putti holding sheaves of wheat; the representation honours the major local personalities, from Giotto to Monsignor Della Casa.
The floor in red and white tiles, by the Furnaces, bears in the centre the image of the patron saint with his gridiron, inside a circular frame with geometrical designs and volutes, unfortunately quite damaged today. The chandelier in wrought iron with glass chalices has the same Art Déco pattern of the lamps on the walls of the entrance hall on the ground floor.
The glass windows, protected today by a supplementary window on both surfaces, bear the rhombus and the circle in tones which reproduce the effect of the antique windows in alabaster. Finally, in the Secretary’s room there is a canvas painted by Galileo Chini, “The Last Invitation”, a late work of the artist, that may be dated around 1952; it is a disturbing reflection on oldness and death, with an ideal portrait of Eleonora Duse, according to critics, and a stylistic appeal to European Expressionism.
The peculiarity of the Town Hall is to have maintained the original aspect almost intact, thanks to the preservation of the antique furnishings and the restoration of the pictorial sections carried out by Augusto Romagnoli (1988), who was an apprentice at the Furnaces in the years 1928 – 1931 and a collaborator of Tito Chini in various projects, amongst which the decoration of this building.