Sant'Alberto di Butrio Hermitage

Original name

Eremo di Sant’Alberto di Butrio

Geographic Area

Ponte Nizza, Lombardy, Italy

Reference Project

Hermitic Architecture

Site description

Oltrepò Pavese area has always been a rich landscape of historical and architectural character in Lombardy. The presence of valuable architectural complexes, civil and religious, placed at the entrance of the valleys or on the top of hills and slopes, defines a network of cultural routes that link historical and feudal events represented by the names of main local families to the artistic and constructive culture perceived between Piedmont, Lombardy and Liguria and found in the collection of castles, forts, sanctuaries and hermitages.
The hermitage of Sant’Alberto di Butrio is part of Lombardy history within Malaspina family events, defining its dual nature of religious and feudal site. The historical transformation of the complex originates from the Roman imperial ruins to a military fort (in VI–VII century after barbarian invasions), until being turned into monastery in XI century with the construction of the first sacred rooms.
The evolving complexity of the monumental site and its environments (with three communicating chapels with single nave, and the locals for the activities of monastic order), together with the historical events and legend that characterized the hermitage (linked to the death of king Edward II Plantagenet of England), convert it into an extremely varied architectural and landscape system, where such heterogeneity translates into the need for the application of both traditional and innovative survey tools and methodologies.


Sandro Parrinello

University of Pavia

Survey Activities

Laser Scanner
Pietro Becherini

Terrestrial Photogrammetry
Raffaella De Marco, Francesca Picchio

Raffaella De Marco

Post production Activities

2D Drawings and 3D Models
Students of the course of Architectural Survey a.a 2015-2016, Master degree course in Building Engineering and Architecture, University of Pavia. Professor: Sandro Parrinello, Francesca Picchio, Tutors: Pietro Becherini, Raffaella De Marco.

  • Gallery
  • TLS Point Cloud
  • Frescoes Point Cloud



Documentation Methodology

The research has developed a system of analysis of the monumental complex starting from the interaction of classical discipline towards aspects of digital evolution of architectural survey. The activities, conducted in collaboration between Research and Didactics, highlighted through the stages of survey, production and processing of data. The activities conducted demonstrate the expeditious approach and the reliability of digital scientific practices, and through the results they prove the validity of elaborated graphics such as documentative basis for necessary restoration campaigns.

According to this principle of decomposition, metric survey was conducted through the application of two measurement methods, direct manual and indirect with laser. Laser Scanner survey (model Z + F Imager 5006h) has acquired data and three-dimensional measurements by scanning workstations developed along a close polygonal, concatenating the interiors between them and with external environments. In front of the instrumental limit, survey operations were conducted with direct manual measurements, through trilaterations between points subsequently reconstructed in CAD space by the intersection of respective measuring spheres.
At the end of this stage of processing, a final three-dimensional digital database was obtained, integrating all the acquisition systems and representing a documentative archive of extreme versatility of application.

The photographic campaign has proved fundamental in particular for the documentation of the internal surfaces characterized by a painted frescoed apparatus, with the cycle of frescoes on the stories of the life of Sant’Alberto and the hermitage inside the church of Santa Maria. In particular, SfM acquisition has guaranteed a total and reliable coverage of colorimetric surface information, not detected by laser instrumentation. The 3D database, developed by the integration of point cloud and SFM models, has enabled with expeditious processes to constitute a complete archive of the site with non-invasive investigations, developed over a period of a week and elaborated in post-production in few months.


Becherini, P., De Marco, R. (2017). The hermitage of Sant’Alberto di Butrio: methodologies of integrated survey between tradition and digital innovation. In G. Amoruso (Ed.) Putting Tradition into Practice: Heritage, Place and Design. Proceedings of 5° INTBAU International Annual Event. Lecture Notes in Civil Engineering, vol. 3 (pp. 458-466). Cham: Springer International Publishing. ResearchGate

Parrinello, S., Picchio, F. (2013). L’eremo di Sant’Alberto di Butrio nell’Oltrepò pavese. Esperienze di analisi e spunti di ricerca. In S. Bertocci, S. Parrinello (Ed.) Architettura Eremitica. Sistemi Progettuali e Paesaggi Culturali. vol. IV (pp. 56-63). Firenze: Edifir. ResearchGate