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Vimercate (Monza e Brianza, Italy): Villa Sottocasa

Foto Villa Sottocasa
Foto Villa Sottocasa
Foto Villa Sottocasa
Foto Villa Sottocasa
Foto Villa Sottocasa
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Places  of historical value  of artistic value around Milan (Italy): Villa SottocasaVilla Sottocasa is located in the historic center of Vimercate. It was built in the last decades of the eighteenth century in neoclassical style in those times very fashionable. Its plant is the typical U-shaped one of many Lombard villas of delights. Behind it is surrounded by a great park of the same name of over six hectares.

In 1860 the villa was bought by the Brothers Ponti from Gallarate, scions of one of the major cotton dynasties of the first Italian industrialization, becoming since 1865 the residence of the cavalier engineer Luigi Ponti and of his wife, Countess Elisabetta Sottocasa. The Ponti spouses carried out important building works, including the stables and the covered riding school in the Neo-Gothic style. On the death of the spouses without children, the villa was inherited by the Counts Sottocasa, from which its current name.
In the sixties of the twentieth century, the municipality of Vimercate acquired the ancient orchard of the villa, divided from the complex by Vittorio Emanuele street, in order to increase the area of the Trotti park. A few decades later, at the beginning of the eighties, about half of the Sottocasa park was purchased, which, after maintenance work and the construction of paths and avenues, was opened to the public.
Finally, in 2001 the municipal administration acquired the south wing and the central body of the villa with the adjoining English park, giving the start to the project to recover the entire system of Villa Sottocasa.
There are currently no photos of the park on this page, but they will be added in the future.

The façade (Fig. 1) of the villa is sober and elegant. Horizontally it is divided in two by a stringcourse, while vertically it presents a tripartition of the front with coupled pilasters. At the top there is a triangular tympanum. The element that most catches the eye is nevetheless the balcony in the center of the first floor. It is also the only balcony of the facade facing the courtyard and is characterized by a wrought-iron balustrade of the nineteenth century decorated with the initials of the Ponti and the Sottocasa family. To it corresponds symmetrically one on the facade towards the park.
Under the balcony there is a canopy to protect those accessing the villa from the main entrance. Currently this canopy is completely covered with ivy, which on the sides goes down to reach the ground (larger picture).
The facade towards the park is structured in a simpler way. On the other hand, the windows of the central part are decorated with more elaborate frames than those on the facade facing the courtyard.

In the northern side wing there is a covered riding school with a neo-gothic façade, connected to a neoclassical lemon-house which overlooks the large park of 6 hectares.
In the first half of the nineteenth century the large rear garden was arranged according to the model of the English landscape park; A large romantic park was created and typical garden architectures were added, including a Neo-Gothic tower and a circular-shaped Kafehaus.

From the courtyard of honor one enters the atrium, a square-plan room dominated by a semi-spherical dome ceiling. As a decoration there are two plaster statues, a dancing satyr and a Venus, copies, respectively, of the Medici Faun and of the Venus de'Medici preserved in the Uffizi of Florence.
On the left there is the main staircase, at the half of which is placed another copy (of the nineteenth century), this time of the Belvedere Apollo exposed at the Vatican.

Proceeding towards the park, you enter the Hall of Honor (Fig. 2), with a vaulted ceiling set on a frame decorated with stuccos and monochrome friezes.
Continuing south you reach the Old dining room (Fig. 3) with a vault embellished with delicate neoclassical decorative elements and panels depicting birds and game.
Following, always towards the south, there is the New Dining Room, in neoclassical style and in which the original furnishings are still present.
To the north there is instead first the Conversation Room for the ladies, with a fireplace surmounted by a neoclassical mirror and rich decorations in gilded stucco.
Next you arrive to the Billiard Room, with a ceiling decorated with dry paints in black and red inspired by classical vascular painting and with a terracotta stove.

In these rooms there are also remarkable chandeliers, in wrought iron, in ceramic, in blown glass, made at the beginning of the nineteenth century, specifically so as to be in style with the rooms in which they are placed.

The first floor ("noble floor") has less decorations and a different organization of spaces. At the center there is a large hall, with the balcony overlooking the court of honor and from which two corridors lead to the other rooms, decorated with friezes depicting geometric and plant motifs.

The southern wing of the villa is occupied since 2010 by the Museum of the Vimercat Territory, which tells the story of the territory of Vimercate starting from the most ancient civilizations that have inhabited it, up to contemporary society.
Two original parts of the villa have been included in the museum: the private chapel (Fig. 5) and the Countess's apartment.
The first is on the ground floor and owes its current appearance to a nineteenth-century reconstruction. The altarpiece is a precious painting of the early eighteenth century by Stefano Maria Legnani, also known as Legnanino. The painting, entitled the Immaculate depicts in a diaphanous light the Madonna with the Child seated on the globe. The dull colors of the scene contrast with the delicate yet saturated colors of the Virgin and Child robes.
The Countess's apartment is on the first floor and houses the paintings of the Ponti-Sottocasa collection acquired by the Municipality together with the villa. Noteworthy in particular a full-length portrait of the Countess Elisabetta Sottocasa, a work of 1874 by Mosè Bianchi and permeated by a subtle melancholy.

Categories: Places of historical value of artistic value

Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 53 - 20871 Vimercate (MB)
Further pictures of Villa Sottocasa in the section Photography
Vimercate (Monza e Brianza, Italy): Private chapel of Villa Sottocasa
Vimercate (Monza e Brianza, Italy): Crystal chandelier in Villa Sottocasa
Vimercate (Monza e Brianza, Italy): Main entrance of Villa Sottocasa
Vimercate (Monza e Brianza, Italy): Conversation Room in Villa Sottocasa