Villa Arconati

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The Villa

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Among the most beautiful and majestic pleasure villas of Milan, Villa Arconati is heritage site of great historical, cultural and architectural value. The Villa – which together with its Gardens is today the headquarters of the Augusto Rancilio Foundation – is situated in the Parco delle Groane, in the hamlet of Castellazzo di Bollate, beside a rural village and the church of San Guglielmo.

Considered to be an Italian revisitation of Louis XIV’s Versailles, the present structure of the aristocratic villa was completed by the Arconati family in the 18th century. It is an expression of the attention to detail and elegance of Lombard baroque, applied to the previous 17th century dwelling.

It is clear that the complex has undergone different cycles of reconstruction since 1610. However this stratification of styles adds to the organic whole of the structure, demonstrating the desire of the Arconati family to ennoble the building and its internal and external architecture.

Arriving along the tree lined avenue, Viale dei Leoni, Villa Arconati appears in all its charm, still standing despite the obvious signs of aging, which today require important restoration work. The H structure of the villa has two courtyards: to the west, the entrance courtyard with its imposing facade, and to the east, the ‘corte nobile’, with its internal arcade overlooking the gardens. The internal spaces still demonstrate today the good taste and love of the arts that in the past enlivened this noble residence, a cultural epicentre which manifests the passion for architecture, classical art, music and the sciences.

Situated on the ground floor is the Salone del Museo (museum room), where there is still a roman statue of Tiberius, once known as Pompey the Great, as well as the cabinet for the monument to Gastone de Foix by Bambaja (the bas-reliefs and sculptures today belong to the collection of the Musei Civici del Castello Sforzesco in Milan); There is also a Library – where the pages of the Atlantic Codex of Leonardo da Vinci were probably kept, donated in 1637 to the Biblioteca Ambrosiana – an archive and a museum laboratory, at one time intended to be used for the restoration and copying of sculptures.

The Salone del Museo, together with the other spaces of the Villa, is today the location of some public and private events – such as conventions, conferences and receptions – all of which help to fund the restoration work on the Villa complex.

The Grand Staircase crowned with painted vaulting, leads to the ‘piano nobile superiore’(first floor). Among the ladies’ apartments and the music room – also called the “galleria degli stuchi” –you find yourself immersed in painted allegorical scenes by the Galliari brothers, known as the greatest scenographers of the Teatro Ducale in Milan and of other Lombard villas, and summoned to Castellazzo in 1750 by Giuseppe Antonio Arconati.