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Sesto San Giovanni (Milan, Italy): Villa Torretta

Foto Villa Torretta
Foto Villa Torretta
Foto Villa Torretta
Foto Villa Torretta
Foto Villa Torretta
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Places  of historical value  of artistic value around Milan (Italy): Villa TorrettaVilla Torretta (Villa Tower in English), also known as Villa La Torretta or more simply as La Torretta, is a sixteenth-century villa, located in Sesto San Giovanni just outside the city limits of Milan. Designed by the builders as a delight villa, over the centuries it has had several owners belonging to several noble families of Milan. Now it houses an elegant hotel.

Leaving aside various legends, according to which the villa should have originally been owned by Queen Teodolinda (570-628) and should then have become a fortified outpost of the Bicocca degli Arcimboldi, on the basis of the structure of the complex and considering the architectural elements it is believed that the building dates back to the second half of the sixteenth century, or at least close to the seventeenth century, and that the villa was built not for military purposes, but as a country villa.
In ecclesiastical chronicles we read of a visit of Carlo Borromeo at the Oratory of Santa Margherita (the church which is included in the complex) in 1582. Two gravestones found in 1925 after a devastating fire place the construction of the villa between the late sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century.
The building has been the subject of many interventions over the centuries, and has been owned by various families of Milan and Sesto: Visconti, Serbelloni, the Stanga and the De Ponti, already owners of Villa Visconti d'Aragona. The noble families attracted different personalities to the villa: one for all, Alessandro Manzoni, who visited Villa Toretta as guest of the Serbelloni-Busca during his holidays in the near Bruguglio.

In 1903, the villa's property passes to Breda, which uses it as accommodation for their employees, adapting the rooms to make better use of the spaces and accommodate more families. It is in these years that the long period of decline of the entire complex begins. The ancient and noble Villa Torretta in those years comes to be called Cascina Torretta (dairy farm Torretta). Two fires in 1925 and 1933 further worsen the situation. Since 1961 the villa is completely empty and a long period of total abandonment that lasts twenty years begins; at the end of the eighties the whole complex is bought by the consortium Parco Nord Milano and interventions are made to save and secure what was left of the artistic heritage of the villa. From 1997 to 2002 a detailed restoration of the villa and of the adjacent Oratory of Santa Margherita are carried out through which the original splendor was largely restored.

The Villa Torretta is very large (ca. 5000m 2) and includes the villa itself and the private church (Oratory of Santa Margherita).

The villa is divided into two courts, a noble and a rustic, both open to the front garden. The two courts define a pattern in the shape of an "E" (or double "U"). The main body of the villa is surmounted by a square tower of the Renaissance period, after which the entire complex is named. The walls are made of solid bricks, while the horizontal structures are mostly in wood. The coffered ceilings are still the original ones. A valuable feature is the Baroque portal, which looks on the court with the oratory dedicated to St. Margaret.

The best preserved rooms, as well as part of the corridors, are decorated with beautiful frescoes depicting landscapes, coats of arms, purely decorative elements, mythological scenes and other scenes designed to evoke cheerful and pleasant feelings in the guests.

From the tower you can enjoy a beautiful view over the courts, the beautiful roofs covered with red tiles and the modern adjacent buildings, in stark contrast to the villa complex.

The Oratory of Santa Margherita is located in a small courtyard that hosts the portal of the adjacent Villa Torretta. The facade of the church is baroque. Just below the pediment is the coat of arms of the Spinola-Anguissola family. Unfortunately, the original stained glass windows, depicting Santa Margherita, hence the name of the oratory, St. Dominic and St. Francis, have been lost; the interior frescoes are still in place, restored in the late nineties after years of neglect. The church has a single nave and walls just plastered apart from the frescoed panels. For a long period starting from 1925 it was deconsecrated. During the Breda period the church was used as a women's dormitory for employees.
The frescoes on the walls represent biblical stories (Judith beheading Holofernes and the passage of the Red Sea), the vault is frescoed with an eternal glory and the walls of the chapel are represented some stories of the Virgin (Annunciation and Rest on the Flight from Egypt), while on the vaulted ceiling of the presbitery you can find an angelic Gloria and Angel playing music. The Nativity on the altarpiece, whose traces can be found in the notes relating to the pastoral visits, is irretrievably lost. The latest research attributes the authorship of the frescoes to Simone Barabino, at that time active in Milan in the flourishing workshop Procaccini.

Villa Torretta is now headquarters of the elegant Grand Hotel Villa Torretta, a successful example of harmonious and profitable reuse of an arthistorical asset.
On the hotel website you can also see photos of the villa in the bad state before the last restoration works completed in 2002 and photos taken during restoration work.

Categories: Places of historical value of artistic value

Via Milanese, 3 - Sesto San Giovanni (Milano)
Further pictures of Villa Torretta in the section Photography
Sesto San Giovanni (Milan, Italy): Corridor inside Villa Torretta
Sesto San Giovanni (Milan, Italy): One of the rooms of Villa Torretta
Sesto San Giovanni (Milan, Italy): Ceiling of the apse of the Oratory of  Santa Margherita in Villa Torretta
Sesto San Giovanni (Milan, Italy): Left wall of the apse of the Oratory of  Santa Margherita in Villa Torretta
Sesto San Giovanni (Milan, Italy): Apse of the Oratory of  Santa Margherita in Villa Torretta
Sesto San Giovanni (Milan, Italy): God the Father blessing in the Oratory of Santa Margherita in Villa Torretta
Sesto San Giovanni (Milan, Italy): Right internal wall of the Oratory of Santa Margherita in Villa Torretta