The Palazzo Calò Carducci is a stately building in the old town, overlooking the small square called Piazzetta dei Gesuiti or Gesù (literally, Square of the Jesuits or of Jesus). It is situated on the left of the Baroque church dedicated to Jesus, which actually constitutes the building’s fifth side, connecting the space between the square, from Via Zeuli, Porta Piccola di San Gaetano and the arch of Sant’Onofrio.
Historians have debated the origin of the building; some trace it back to the 17th century, while others to the 18th century. The building has a triangular-like shape and an irregular floor plan. Its square footage is distributed over several floors; five, including the two mezzanine floors and flat roof. Four cisterns, once used to temporarily accumulate rainwater, but now no longer in use, have been found in the foundations.
The building presents an open façade with strong chiaroscuro (light and shade) contrasts. Its architectural elements differ from those of other 18th century buildings in the old town, characterized by solid, compact masonry walls. In fact, this building consists of two parts. On the left, there is a compact structure with two windows on the first two storeys and a single central window on the last, none of which have window frames. On the right, there is an articulated front consisting of a high above-ground basement, with symmetrically-distanced workshops, and an entrance portal surmounted by a triangular tympanum that rises into one of the five loggia arches on the first floor, framed with lesenes (pilaster strips).
The top of the loggia arches, in correspondence to the second floor, is lined with a ledge above which there is an upper balustrade. The retaining pillars used to support busts that have never been found.
The portal with tympanum opens up into an atrium from which a staircase, located on the left, leads to the first floor loggia. The coat of arms of the House of the Calò Carducci hangs at the top of the staircase. It displays a blue background (symbol of heavenly virtues), a green-canopied tree (symbol of the family, united together like branches to the trunk), and exposed roots (the family’s ancient origins). A gold rampant lion holds up the tree (symbol of strength, courage and magnanimity). A gold horizontal strip across the coat of arms represents a warrior’s sword belt, meaning that the family belonged to the equestrian order of knights.
The first-floor loggia leads to three of the four largest rooms that overlook the small square (one of these rooms was used for delegations), and differ in size compared to those overlooking the alleys. These larger rooms have been superbly refurbished. The wooden ceiling, that is, the underside of the wooden floor slab, is painted with ornate, polychromatic decorations that had been heavily damaged due to tampering and temporary neglect of the building.
The Palazzo Calò Carducci has been declared a national monument, and is protected by the Board of Public Works.