A neoclassical building surrounded by greenery
When it was built in 1771, the Villa Ducale in Stresa stood out among the humble residences of fishermen and peasants dotted around this village on Lake Maggiore at the time. The building, still standing in a 13,000-square-metre garden, stands out for its neoclassical elegance, commissioned by its first owner Giacomo Filippo Bolongaro.
Having passed through several hands until 1942, the Rosminian Fathers undertook to renovate the building that had been severely damaged by fire, the villa was a cultural landmark for northern Italy in the 19th century. Novelist Alessandro Manzoni liked to hold philosophical conversations there with earlier homeowner Antonio Rosmini.
Traces of its ancient splendour can be found inside the villa, with inlaid floors and mosaics alongside frescoes featuring mythological subjects, which you can find by climbing the grand staircase made from pink granite and wrought iron. Originally laid out in the Italian style, the outdoor gardens have been enriched over the years with exotic plants, including a splendid Magnolia Grandiflora and an imposing Cedar of Lebanon, also known as the “tree of the gods”.
The villa, which is open to the public, is also home to the International Centre for Rosminian Studies and houses a very valuable library of over 110,000 books.