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Limbiate (Monza e Brianza): Villa Pusterla Arconati Crivelli

Foto Villa Pusterla Arconati Crivelli
Foto Villa Pusterla Arconati Crivelli
Foto Villa Pusterla Arconati Crivelli
Foto Villa Pusterla Arconati Crivelli
Foto Villa Pusterla Arconati Crivelli
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Places  of historical value  of artistic value around Milan (Italy): Villa Pusterla Arconati CrivelliThe large villa is located in the fraction Mombello, on the eastern edge of the Groane woods, in a panoramic position overlooking the Seveso valley.

HISTORY
The site was already occupied in the early Middle Ages by a castle. According to tradition, in 1340 Margherita Pusterla, wife of Fanciscolo, found refuge in the villa, then owned by the family, to escape her cousin Luchino Visconti. However both were later executed by him for conspiracy. In reality, it is not clear whether it is a legend (narrated in Cesare Cantù's novel "Margherita Pusterla") or if it really happened.

The sequence of subsequent owners is unclear (however, all important families in the history of Milan and of Lombardy).
According to some sources in the first part of the sixteenth century the villa became the property of the Carcanos, who transformed the building into a palace. In 1543 (in 1579 according to other sources) the building passed to the Arconati family, who embellished it by transforming it into an elegant country house, especially by the will of Anna Visconti who in the 80s of the sixteenth century had extensive works carried out on a project by the architect Martino Bassi.

In 1718 (or 1719) the villa passed to the Crivelli family, who transformed it into a luxurious villa based on a project by the architect Francesco Croce who also designed the grand staircase in Fig. 3, created the Italian garden and added the oratory of San Francesco (opened for worship in 1754).
Under the count Giuseppe Crivelli the villa experienced its heyday. In 1786 it twice hosted Ferdinand IV king of the Two Sicilies.
In 1797 it became, from May to November, Napoleon's headquarters, becoming the seat of a real court. On 13 June 1797 the Oratory of San Francesco hosted the weddings of Paolina Bonaparte and General Leclerc and of Elisa Bonaparte with Felice Baiocchi.

In 1819 the count Ferdinando Crivelli was forced by debts to sell the villa, which then went through various changes of ownership to a progressive decline.
The property finally passed in 1865 to the Province of Milan, of the newly established Kingdom of Italy, which destined it to be the seat of a psychiatric hospital.
During the period in which the villa housed the psychiatric hospital, numerous secondary buildings were added, in which also a weaving mill, a laundry, various artisan workshops and workshops, a theater were placed.
In certain periods, considering both patients and staff, the hospital came to host several thousand people.
In 1915 many veterans of the First World War, traumatized by the war in the trenches, were hosted there.
The Basaglia law of 1978 led to the dismantling of the asylum. Since then the villa has become the seat of the Istituto Agrario Luigi Castiglioni (Agricultural School Luigi Castiglioni).

STRUCTURE
The villa is structured according to a U-shape with two bodies which tend to close also the frontal side. They are connected by a porticoed loggia (Fig. 2) with a terrace above.
Originally there was a portico also at the base of the main facade towards the courtyard. However, it was walled up already in the nineteenth century and sixteenth-century-like windows were inserted in the closing walls, in style with those of the first floor.
The two elegant wings (not identical to each other) have the corner rounded towards the courtyard. Like the central body they comprise two floors. However, there is also a mezzanine floor and an attic, absent in the central body by virtue of the greater height of the rooms in the latter.

The eastern front, which faces the garden, is characterized by the presence of two square panoramic towers on the sides and of a large wall at the base with a convex profile in the center, enriched at the bottom by baroque exedras that originally housed fountains. The terraced wall was built in the eighteenth century on a project by Francesco Croce. In particular, the convex central part hid a large staircase leading to the villa from view, still present inside it.
Access to the garden below is via a series of scissor stairways that connect panoramic terraces.
In recent years, the Italian garden once present has been partially recreated in front of the eastern side of the villa. The original one was also enriched by a central fountain and various water games.

Inside the villa almost nothing of the past wealth has remained. There are still the grand staircase designed by the architect Francesco Croce (Fig. 3) and two frescoes made by Angelo Borroni in the first half of the eighteenth century in two rooms. One depicts an allegory of the brevity of life, the other Hercules taming the lion Nemeo.

Basements
The villa has very large and branched basements, which extend under almost the entire area of the park.
They also include an ice chest and a well.
The basements of Villa Pusterla Arconati Crivelli are currently being explored by the Speleology Association of Artificial Cavities in Milan ("associazione Speleologia Cavità Artificiali Milano").

Until the end of the nineteenth century, the park also housed vineyards, later destroyed by the phylloxera epidemic that affected the whole Europe. The villa and its park also saw the intervention of the important botanist Luigi Castiglioni, at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He set up several specimens of exotic plants brought from the United States. The first pineapples in Europe were also grown in the park of the villa, in a special greenhouse.

Oratory of San Francesco
(Fig. 4) Also called Oratory of Mombello, the small church was built in late Baroque style in the mid-eighteenth century according to a design by Francesco Croce.
The oratory is located next to the north wing of the villa and originally it was a single body with the villa on the side of the facade. The latter is in fact not original, being built in neo-rococo style in the early 1920s of the twentieth century, when the small church was restored and detached from the villa.
The church includes a central circular hall (Fig. 5) inserted in a rectangular structure. The central space is covered by a low tiburium with alternately round and elliptical windows at its base. At the center of the dome a small circular fresco depicting putti in the clouds.
On the side walls there are two frescoes by Stefano Gaetano Crivelli inside stucco frames (on the left a Nativity with Saint Francis and, in the background, San Carlo, on the right Saint Stephen (in memory of Stefano Gaetano Crivelli who built the oratory).
The apse is separated from the central body by a polychrome marble balustrade. Inside there is a baroque altar, also in polychrome marble. Its retable houses an altarpiece by Bernardino Campi, currently under restoration.
Note also the presence of a matroneum with stone and wrought iron balustrades.

Categories: Places of historical value of artistic value


Via Monte Grappa, 40, 20812 Mombello MB
Further pictures of Villa Pusterla Arconati Crivelli in the section Photography
Limbiate (Monza e Brianza, Italy): Allegory of the brevity of life in Villa Pusterla Arconati Crivelli
Limbiate (Monza e Brianza, Italy): Facade toward the park of Villa Pusterla Arconati Crivelli
Limbiate (Monza e Brianza, Italy): Interior of the Oratory of San Francesco in  Villa Pusterla Arconati Crivelli
Limbiate (Monza e Brianza, Italy): Interior of the dome of the Oratory of San Francesco in  Villa Pusterla Arconati Crivelli
Limbiate (Monza e Brianza, Italy): St. Stephan in the Oratory of San Francesco in Villa Pusterla Arconati Crivelli
Limbiate (Monza e Brianza, Italy): Hercules taming the lion Nemeus in Villa Pusterla Arconati Crivelli