Esoteric food above the altar: Santa Maria della Steccata

Just a few steps away, the Church of Santa Maria della Steccata, designed with clear touches of the Leonardo style, displays the iconographic imagination of another great protagonist of the Italian Renaissance: Francesco Mazzola, called Parmigianino (1503-1540). On the arch over the main altar with its 14th-century image of the Virgin nursing Jesus, between the Three Wise Virgins and the Three Foolish Virgins painted between 1533 and 1539, one can see an extraordinary array of food. Crabs, doves, shrimps, goats, scallops and fruit all hold strong symbolic meaning and hidden alchemical references: above the altar – the place where food for the soul is consecrated – the artist has fixed forever a vast panorama of sea and land food.