Documento del Mese luglio
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The seal of the contended inn reveals an ancient conspiracy

The document of july 2014


With a decree of 10th June 1403, Caterina Visconti granted the Osteria della Balla to Balzarino Pusterla.
The seal hanging from the ancient document is particularly beautiful. The top right and bottom left quarters show the coat of arms of the Visconti family: the grass snake.

Galvano Fiamma, a Milan chronicler of the 14th century, handed down to posterity the tale of the undertakings of Ottone Visconti who, during the first Crusade, won the banner of a Saracen chief showing a coiled grass snake and established a decree stating that the municipality of Milan was to adopt that symbol for its troops. The true origin lies hidden in legend however. The other sections of the seal show the French fleurs-de-lis, that Gian Galeazzo Visconti quartered with the permission of Charles VI on the occasion of his marriage with Isabella of France.

Already in the early 1370s, Bernabò had begun to cede to the Pusterla family a part of the goods confiscated at the time of the conspiracy against Luchino Visconti. The latter, in 1340, had made a play for his cousin Margherita, wife of Francesco Pusterla. Her refusal, and the affront suffered, roused her husband's anger. Together with other Milan families, he organised a plot to remove Luchino and instead establish a collective government made up of aristocratic families. The plot failed however, and those responsible were arrested and executed. Margherita was imprisoned and subsequently walled up alive in the Visconti castle of Invorio.

The restitution of part of the goods confiscated after the plot didn't mean, however, that the intention was to reintegrate the Pusterla family. In fact, on the death of Balzarino in 1407, Duke Giovanni Maria Visconti granted possession to Antonio Visconti, brother of Pusterla's second wife.

In February 1407, Balzarino had made a will. A number of legacies were specified, for various members of the family. The Osteria was left to the descendants of those involved in the plot 70 years earlier. His daughter Caterina, born during the first marriage with Orsina Visconti, was left property in Locate, San Donato and San Giuliano. A considerable inheritance was left to the Consorzio della Misericordia and to Baggio Abbey. Lesser bequeaths went to other religious bodies in Milan and the Holy Land. Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo was named as the sole heir. On 5th June 1407, Veneranda Fabbrica assigned a salary to Finolo Mazzali and entrusted him with the task of drawing up an inventory of the deceased man's assets. After dictating a second postscript to the will, Balzarino had ordered (in the presence of Francescolo de Asso, Antoniolo de Vinoribus de Carate and others) four chests to be taken to the castle of Porta Giovia and placed in the chamber occupied by the castellan Giovanni Pusterla. The chests would contain exquisite items of clothing and underwear, linen cloth, numerous vases and other objects. One of these chests had to be handed over to his wife Beatrice after his death, while the other three would be consigned to Veneranda Fabbrica complete with all their contents. 

The Osteria della Balla would be contested in later years: the process to acquire possession of it lasted nearly two centuries, up until 1742.