Behind the apse of Saints Vitalis and Agricola, one of the seven churches inside the Basilica of Santo Stefano, lies a building that is intimately tied to the suggestive and unique history of the sacred complex. The house in via Santa n. 1, along with a small courtyard called Cortiletto Pilate, function as the assembly area for the Ancient and Noble Military Company of Lombardi (with the exception of part of the ground floor, which is used as the church of Our Lady of Loreto). Another entrance is located in the Cortiletto Pilate and is used by the Company for its annual meeting after the Mass in St. Stephen. The Compagnia dei Lombardi was built in the late twelfth century and the first aggregate, originating in the Lombardy and Treviso region, began meeting in the ancient church of saints Pietro and Paolo, now known as the SS. Vitale and Agricola, for their first assemblies and religious obligations. The first document that indicates the existence of the house at the Basilica of Santo Stefano as a meeting place of the Society is the 1256 statute. At that time the Company's dwelling consisted of an edifice where the church of Our Lady of Loreto presently stands. In this place the meetings of the Corporal (the assembly) took place as well as the elections of the Massaro and ministrali and the distribution of the cakes and candles for the meetings. It was also where the weapons, flags, trophies and the banner of the company were guarded and held [...].
The main meeting room and official residence of the company contains decorations on the eighteenth century stucco walls that frame an inscription in memory of Pope Benedict XIV: the emblem of the Society with weapons, flags and the keys of the city of Imola. In addition, there is also a painting by Tommaso Garelli from 1466, a representation of the Madonna with Child enthroned between St. Nicolò, St. Pietro, St. Michele Arcangelo and St. Petronio. There are also nine boards depicting four saints of Simone dei Crocifissi, four of Giovanni da Modena and one of St. Jerome of the scuola romagnola received by the Company between 1718 and 1723, as well as a collection of coat of arms painted on wooden shields of the families, both ‘extinct’ and flourishing, belonging to the association. The meeting room, still warmed today but the ancient fireplace, is equipped with cupboards, benches, chairs and by the ‘counter of the officials’ on which ancient objects are placed during meetings days; a cassette containing bags for the extraction of the officers, two brimming bowls of white and black beans, two urns for voting, two candlesticks, five illuminated registers from 1334, 1524, 1554, 1723, which all serve as testimonies of the Companies unbroken continuity.
excerpt from the book "La Compagnia dei Lombardi - Contributions to a history of eight centuries" A.A.V.V. (1992)