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Varedo (Monza e Brianza, Italy): Villa Bagatti Valsecchi

Foto Villa Bagatti Valsecchi
Foto Villa Bagatti Valsecchi
Foto Villa Bagatti Valsecchi
Foto Villa Bagatti Valsecchi
Foto Villa Bagatti Valsecchi
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Places  of historical value  of naturalistic value  of artistic value around Milan (Italy): Villa Bagatti ValsecchiHISTORY
The presence in Varedo of the Bagatti family, maybe arrived there to escape the cyclical epidemics of plague that tormented the sixteenth century, up to the most devastating of 1630 narrated by Manzoni, has been recorded in the documents since 1523.
It was at that time that the nuns of the Milanese monastery of Santa Maria Maddalena ceded the vast possession that extended to the edges of the inhabited center of Varedo to Paximus de Bagatis.
The nineteenth-century manor house, the monumental Villa Bagatti Valsecchi which has survived, was obtained from the first sixteenth-century residence, perhaps already characterized by significant architecture, through transformations and adaptations.

In 1878, the brothers Fausto and Giuseppe of the family, meanwhile become Bagatti Valsecchi following the marriage union with the Valsecchi family, enlarged the property and started a construction program; the existing villa was modified and enlarged with the aim of transforming it into an elegant holiday villa in eclectic style.

The building was built by the Bagatti Valsecchi architects starting from 1878 on the plan of the pre-existing manor house. An upper floor was added to the single-storey central building. The building, with an area of approximately 800sqm, has a compact and regular body, without lateral wings and with salient and overlapping "layers" structure. On the east side it is joined by an open portico to an outbuilding, at the time used as a guest house, in turn connected by a long covered walkway to the stables and sheds bordering the concierge and, later, to the farmhouses and greenhouses.
In their interventions, the Bagatti brothers wanted to reproduce the Lombard rococo style, expressed with composure and parsimony in the exterior, with greater ease and richness in the interior.

In accordance with the antiquarian culture and the fashion of collecting ancient artifacts in vogue at that time, the modernization and expansion works included the recovery and reuse of large quantities of material from the demolitions in progress at that time in Milan. In particular, portions of the Lazzaretto (antique facility for the care of plague patients in Milan) were used, whose fifteenth-century columns were purchased and reassembled, and the bell tower of the convent of Sant'Erasmo in Milan, used for the panoramic loggia at the top of the central body of the villa, one of its most characterizing elements.

In 1881 the large 1570 meter long avenue that connects the villa to the south with Palazzolo Milanese was built on a project by the engineer Domenico Laveni. 30 meters wide, it is flanked by two rows of cypress poplars placed at regular intervals from each other.

In 1883 the stables and guest quarters and the arcade that connects them were built. For the latter, material from the demolition of the Milan Lazzaretto was used.

Between 1935 and 1942 the property gave the possibility of using the park to the heliotherapy colony, for the children of the citizens of Varedo called to arms.

After the Second World War a period of slow but progressive decline began for the villa.
In 2011 the villa was finally acquired by the Foundation "La Versiera 1718" which has the Municipality of Varedo as its sole shareholder and that since then has been committed to protecting, promoting and enhancing the villa compatibly with its nature as a historical-artistic asset, in particular by making it available for public and private events.

The villa has two facades, of equivalent importance: one facing north towards the town and one facing south towards the park. The first is more animated, since the central part is in a slightly backward position compared to the lateral ones and it is equipped on the ground floor, for its entire width, with a loggia open to the courtyard. The facade towards the park is flat, but still enriched on the ground floor by a large terrace overlooking the park.
Note on the west side the presence of two niches that house as many statues.
Finally, the east side has a further portico surmounted by a terrace with the function of visually joining the body of the villa and that of the small guesthouse.

The villa has three floors: The ground floor, comprising a series of large halls and decorated rooms in the villa and many medium sized rooms in the guesthouse. The mezzanine floor, in the villa, consisting of small rooms with a low ceiling, once inhabited by the servants. The first floor, which largely follows the internal subdivisions of the ground floor, here too with
large halls flanked by two panoramic terraces.

Unfortunately, almost nothing of the original furnishings remains inside. However, various structural elements are still present, in which the creativity and the attention to detail of the Bagatti-Valsecchi brothers are recognizable: the monograms on the door and window handles, the carved and gilded wooden ceilings, the fine floors, the wrought iron that decorate stairs, parapets and gates (decorations made between 1881 and 1882 by the artisan Trivulzio on designs by the Bagatti-Valsecchi brothers themselves).

The mythological-themed frescoes on the vaults of some of the villa's rooms predate the expansion works by the brothers Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti-Valsecchi. They were in fact painted by Martino Cignaroli between 1649 and 1726.
One of the rooms is decorated with a band of mythological-themed paintings placed immediately under the ceiling along the entire perimeter of the room to simulate frescoes.

The park has an extension of about 64,500 square meters and its arrangement began in 1884. Designed as an English garden, the park includes various elements: decorative, such as statues and the fountain, formal such as the gallop, the vegetable gardens and an artificial hill, architectural as the reconstruction of the San Gregorio gate of the Milan Lazzaretto and the ice house.
The park is mainly composed of deciduous trees, basically concentrated in small groups of three plants, designed to ensure a pleasant view in all seasons. The demarcation lines are often highlighted by a two-tone cobblestone border which becomes the technical and decorative feature of the park; the motif is also present in the flowerbed in front of the belvedere which, characterized by a design in the shape of a Florentine lily and originally intended to host flowers in all seasons.
In addition to the park itself, there is also the courtyard of honor, in front of the north facade. It is characterized by the presence, in the center, of a large circular flowerbed, crowned by eight statues depicting mythological characters and with a statue of Julius Caesar, probably of Roman origin, in the center.

The fountain (Fig. 1) placed in the center of the park in line with the tree-lined avenue that leads to Palazzolo has a circular structure, but is located in the center of an elliptical area bordered by gravel strips, with the major axis orthogonal to the facade of the villa so as to appear circular when viewed from the villa itself, and with four almost flat stairways leading to it. Each staircase was originally equipped with two statues on pedestals at the beginning and at the end. Unfortunately today many of the sixteen statues have been lost.
The edge of the fountain itself is in molera stone, while the floor of the pool is made up of a mosaic design created with two-tone tiles: the white ones in Carrara marble, the dark ones in black limestone. Unfortunately, the fountain has only been only partially restored.

In the park there is also a part of the Lazzaretto of Milan (Fig. 5), the Gate of San Gregorio (or Small Gate) from where the killed by the plague were taken away. It was saved from demolition and placed in the park of the villa.
Another part of the Lazzaretto was used, as already mentioned, as a covered connection between the dependance and the stables. Under the portico there was originally a lapidary (unfortunately removed in 1900) consisting of fragments of gravestones mostly from the Renaissance period.
Another element of interest in the park is represented by the icehouse (Fig. 4), located in the west corner of the park, near the surrounding wall. It was built in 1882 and has a depth of about 7 meters. It was accessed through a short passage in the shape of an artificial cave.

Categories: Places of historical value of naturalistic value of artistic value

Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 48, 20814 Varedo MB
Further pictures of Villa Bagatti Valsecchi in the section Photography
Varedo (Monza e Brianza, Italy): San Gregorio Gate of the Lazzaretto in the park of Villa Bagatti Valsecchi
Varedo (Monza e Brianza, Italy): Villa Bagatti Valsecchi seen from the park
Varedo (Monza e Brianza, Italy): Allegory of spring in Villa Bagatti Valsecchi
Varedo (Monza e Brianza, Italy): Internal portal in Villa Bagatti Valsecchi
Varedo (Monza e Brianza, Italy): Park of Villa Bagatti Valsecchi