The monumental complex of Villa Della Porta-Bozzolo is located in the municipality of Casalzuigno, a small village located 327 meters above sea level in the Varese area of Valcuvia, the valley that from Laveno, on the Lombard shore of Lake Maggiore, extends towards Switzerland up to Luino.
The complex owes its fame above all to the splendid and scenographic Italian garden which, with its monumental layout, gives the villa its current charm and grandeur.
Villa Della Porta-Bozzolo was built in the 16th century as a rustic settlement of the noble Della Porta family. In the early sixteenth century, Giroldino Della Porta purchased an extensive property and built a rustic house with loggias, equipped with a courtyard bordered by an elegant residential wing.
The villa is the center of a country business, whose activity becomes more and more flourishing, so much so that the numerous descendants of Giroldino gradually extend the family's possessions to a large part of Valcuvia.
It is therefore necessary to expand the structures and rustic houses inside the villa that allow the collection and processing of the products of the countryside. In particular, inside the villa, rural houses, stables, stables and large airy rooms where silkworms were collected were still visible, as well as the gigantic press and the vast cellars necessary for the production of wine . The Casalzuigno villa remained, in fact, the residential and administrative center of the family's remarkable agricultural possessions.
The original rustic settlement, however, is destined to undergo profound modifications, to be progressively transformed into a manor house and, later, as a holiday resort.
Already in the seventeenth century the villa took on a more complete and organic form. Carlo Girolamo Della Porta adds to the existing structure a two-storey building, facing east, which creates a courtyard of honor and houses a new stately home. The new residence opens in the direction of a large parterre adorned with flower beds, bordered on the bottom by an elegant gate surmounted by four statues depicting the seasons. Beyond the gate, the garden continues, in front of the house in line with the entrance and the main halls of the villa, with a beautiful avenue of majestic oaks that ends in an important and scenic newsstand decorated with a fresco depicting Apollo and the Muse.
But it was in the early decades of the eighteenth century that the residence underwent its most important and radical transformation. Gian Angelo III Della Porta, cultured and worldly man, decides to create the current sumptuous Italian garden in homage to his wife Isabella Giulini, and certainly inspired by the many, new parks and gardens of Baroque scenography, which had arisen and arose, in those years, around numerous patrician residences, and that Gian Angelo could not have known in his numerous travels in Italy and abroad. The beautiful family villa, however, possessed a modest garden and the space in front of the house was certainly not sufficient for the realization of the grandiose composition that the brilliant Gian Angelo Della Porta had in mind. It was thus that the completion of the grandiose project, by an architect who remained unknown, imposed the exceptional choice of setting the main axis of the garden in a parallel direction with respect to the facade of the villa and perpendicularly with respect to the existing and smaller garden space created in front of the residence. The garden is developed on the vast hill that extends on the side of the villa, contravening the classical canons that would require it to extend in axis with the main halls of the residence in order to give it both visual and planimetric importance.
Villa della Porta Bozzolo: Useful information
Starting from the existing main parterre located in front of the portal of the residence, the new axis of the garden develops downwards in a long, elegantly paved driveway, which culminates in the new monumental entrance of the complex. In the opposite direction, however, towards the hill, the garden develops in a sequence of four terraces, adorned with balustrades and statues in Viggiщ stone, joined by a grand staircase, beautifully scenographic, which opens onto the vast green slope called "il theater ”, a vast lawn bordered by cypresses that culminates in the large terminal fountain. The rich fountain that crowns the large round lawn was built in 1723 by an unidentified architect Pellegatta. Beyond the fountain, the thick wood that covers the hill behind is cut by a long and steep avenue crossed by a rustic beaten earth path that climbs up to the top of the hill overlooking the valley and the property.
The two axes of the garden, so developed over time and have come down to us, offer, in the large space, surprising views in a breathtaking scenario. The effective contrast between the rich and harmonious architecture of the four terraces and the vast breath of the large lawn immediately behind it, the suggestive antinomy between the opulence of the main garden and the intimacy of the shady avenue of oak trees, require to remember the garden of Casalzuigno as one of the most unusual and fascinating examples of green architecture visible today in Italy.
The villa is currently owned by the FAI (Italian Environment Fund) to which it was donated in 1989 by the heirs of Senator Camillo Bozzolo who had collected the legacy of the Della Porta in the late nineteenth century, through various transfers of ownership. After receiving the villa as a donation, FAI immediately began a careful and significant restoration which continues with the successful aim of preserving the great charm of their long history to the house and garden.
How to get there: From Milan take the A8 “dei Laghi” highway towards Alessandria-Gravellona Toce. Exit Vergiate -Sesto, direction Besozzo / Laveno. After Gemonio, proceed in the direction of Valcuvia-Luino until Casalzuigno.