Villa Monastero

building in Varenna, Italy

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Villa Monastero
EsinoLario 2013 050.jpg
General information
Architectural styleeclectic, Nordic
AddressVia Polvani, 4
Town or cityVarenna
Coordinates46°00′33″N 9°17′08″E / 46.009279°N 9.285496°E / 46.009279; 9.285496
Construction started12th century
OwnerProvince of Lecco
Other information
ParkingParking garage

Villa Monastero is located in Varenna, Province of Lecco, on the shore of Lake Como. The villa lies south of the village, halfway between Varenna and Fiumelatte, and includes a botanical garden, a museum, and a convention center. The villa hosts summer courses for the "Enrico Fermi" International School of Physics, and has heard lectures by more than thirty-four Nobel Laureates.[1]


Villa Monastero is an eclectic villa built in the Nordic style. The site was originally a Cistercian convent, founded at the end of the 12th century in Varenna, which now lies beneath the modern building.[2] The convent grew in importance and wealth, purchasing many properties, especially around Lierna, but eventually declined to only six mothers, and was closed by papal bull in 1567.[3]

The whole estate was purchased by Paolo Mornico in 1569, using his fortune amassed through iron mining in Valsassinia.[4] In the 17th century the Mornico family incrementally rebuilt and decorated it in the eclectic style.

Walter Kees of Leipzig bought the villa in the 1890s, and between 1897 and 1909 carried out modifications which give its current Eclectic style. Some of the architects involved include Emilio Alemagna, Achille Majnoni, and Enrico Citterio, the construction itself was overseen by G. Bertarini of Varenna.[5] The final phase of construction expanded the garden, with the cooperation of Enrico Achler of Menaggio.

In 1936 the Milanese De Marchi family, originally from Switzerland, donated the villa to the public and it became a museum. In 1940 the gardens were opened to the public, and in 1953 the conference center was created. In the 1970s, the compound was taken over by the National Research Council, and managed by the Province of Como. In 1996, as new province boundaries were established, management passed to the Province of Lecco and the museum house founded. In 2009 the entire complex was acquired by the Province of Lecco.

Museum house

A museum house was set up within Villa Monastero, and opened to the public in 2003. It was officially recognized by Lombardy in 2005. The monumental part of the house was already completed by 1996, with 14 rooms featuring original decorations and furniture from its various owners. The museum house has been visited by more than 40,000 guests.[1] The museum house also contains a collection of optical, electronic, and mechanical instruments originally belonging to Giovanni Polvani.

Photo gallery


  1. ^ a b Casa Museo Villa Monastero Varenna in Guida al Sistema Museale della provincia di Lecco, edited by Anna Ranzi, Sistema Museale della Provincia di Lecco, Lecco, 2013, p. 11.
  2. ^ Ranzi, Anna (ed.). Villa Monastero, Varenna. Oggiono, Lecco: "Villa Monastero" Foundation of Varenna. p. 6.
  3. ^ Ranzi, p. 7
  4. ^ Ranzi, p. 12
  5. ^ Ranzi, p. 19

Further reading

  • Desmond, Steven (2016). Gardens of the Italian Lakes (Hardback). London: Frances Lincoln. ISBN 978-0-7112-3630-1.

External links

Original content from Wikipedia, shared with licence Creative Commons By-Sa - Villa Monastero