The Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna is a private, not-for-profit, membership-based legal entity with full statutory and managerial autonomy, working for social freedoms. It follows in the footsteps of the Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna, founded in 1837 by a group of a hundred private individuals, recognised by the Papal Government by Decree no. 5766 of the Cardinal Legate of Bologna on 14 July 1837, and by the Italian Government by Royal Decree on 17 March 1861.
With its projects rooted in principles of subsidiarity, solidarity, and equality, the Foundation closely abides by rules of legality, transparency, and responsibility, applying the best-suited methods and tools to ensure efficiency, cost-effectiveness, stability, continuity and quality in all of its endeavours. It exclusively pursues social utility goals, encouraging local development in the reference area, respecting original traditions and paying particular attention to the community, whose interest it has always worked in, always striving to achieve the common good.
A true jewel of the Bologna Renaissance. Since 1991, the 15th-century style Casa Saraceni has been home to the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna. The building takes its name from a noble family, who owned the historic residence. Indeed, this building was highly regarded as one of the most valuable buildings in the city at the time.
The architectural layout is harmonised and fine-tuned according to a precisely measured, balanced arrangement. Its style epitomises an encounter between the Emilian ornamental style, which stands out for its terracotta decorations on the façade, and the Florentine Renaissance tradition, in the way that it recalls the classical Ospedale degli Innocenti by Filippo Brunelleschi, particularly in the arches.
Still recognisable is the tower, with its top cut off, and incorporated into the structure, which characterised part of the Clarissimi’s family abode, and on whose foundations the Casa Saraceni was built.
The story of Casa Saraceni, a beautiful gem at the heart of Bologna, surrounded by culturally rich places and buildings, is interwoven with the story of some of the most influential families and establishments in the history of the city. The construction of the palace took place in the early 16th century, and is thought to have been completed by Antonio Saraceni, a nobleman from Bologna who, from time to time, would take on the role of city Senate in the years 1468 to 1502. He supposedly built this palace on the foundations of a pre-existing house owned by the Clarissimi family since the 13th century.
The elegance and beauty of the residence meant that it was elected over time as the most appropriate venue for hosting politically authoritative figures when they came to the city. The history of the building is marked by several changes of ownership, passing between noble families such as the Cospi in 1575 and the Garzoni in 1631, as well as by changes in its use, such as when it became the Opera Pia dei Poveri Vergognosi in 1735.
In 1925, the palace became the property of the “Società Anonima Magazzini Centrali Italiani” (“The Anonymous Society of Central Italian Storehouses”) before finally becoming the property of the Credito Fondiario della Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna in 1930.
The rooms on the ground floor, now used as exhibition space, are enriched by exquisite coffered wooden ceilings, whilst the marble staircase features “raffaellesche” vaults by Roberto Franzoni, a leading exponent of Bologna’s Art Nouveau.
The rooms on the upper floors, obtained through restructuring and renovation works, are decorated with light-coloured stuccoes and decorations inspired by the 18th century, and house a rich gallery of 17th and 18th century paintings from the Foundation’s Art and History Collections.
Following the restoration entrusted to Baulina Paleotti, Casa Saraceni officially became the headquarters of the Credito Fondiario of the Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna in 1934. The building continued to be used for this purpose until 1991, the year in which the Credito Fondiario left Casa Saraceni and Savings Banks (Casse di Risparmio) in Italy underwent a reform following the Amato Law. This in turn led the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio to take up its residence in the building, purchasing it and sponsoring a series of important renovation, restoration and enhancement works. Further conservative restoration work was carried out between 1995 and 2001.