A hunting lodge was built between 1400 and 1500, by the Mozzoni family.
The design was modified, and became a renaissance villa, after 1580 - by
the Campi brothers of Cremona, the residence was transformed into a
collection of precious paintings and frescoes, casement ceilings and
Renaissance furniture. The garden has a parterre and water garden with
a famously long double staircase (156 steps) lined with cypresses and
rising to a grotto. There are splendid views, with a glimpse of Lake
Head Gardener's Comment
The garden and the villa were built simultaneously to have continuity between outside and inside, that's why I suggest visiting both. The first garden (near to the portico) with two large fishponds and many statues, is like an open air room with the walls made with tufo stone on one side and bay hedge on the other, at the same height as the first floor of the villa. The other two terraced gardens looking north are the perfect continuation of the house, large as the first garden but much longer. The water-staircase as well seems to start from the large window below and climb up to the sky. Finally the English park with green houses completes the garden, we have many trees dating to the end of the eighteenth century like Fagus sylvatica atropurpurea (copper beach), Taxus baccata, Cedrus libani, Quercus suber, Thuja occidentalis, Ilex aquifolium, Quercus ilex and four huge Camellias. The view from the belvedere looking towards Lake Lugano and the mountain profile is beautiful.
Established before 1440 as a hunting lodge of the Mozzoni family, it was subsequently embellished and completed between 1530 and 1559 with fresco wall paintings by the Campi brothers from Cremona and their disciples. In 1476, the life of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, was saved by Agostino Mozzoni and his dog from the onslaught of a bear, while staying as guest of the family. This brave act earned the family favours and fortunes. Ascanio Mozzoni, a man of great culture, brought back cues from his travels for the arrangement of his garden over seven levels, established the garden. In 1580, his only daughter was married to Giovan Pietro Cicogna through whose descendants we arrive at today’s owners. The most pleasant characteristic of the Villa is its merging with the garden. Almost as if nature, through its vineyard sprouts and flower wreaths, intended to invade the fresco painted ceiling of the porticoes. One can admire the two-flight stairway with a brook running in-between which leads directly to the halls of the Villa and also enjoy from above the sight of the beautiful panorama. The walled-in garden is a typical example of formal Italian garden with box hedges, water basins, fountains and a grotto with remarkable waterworks. Climbing towards the belvedere a more naturalistic romantic park follows. Still nowadays the descendants of the Cicogna Mozzoni family are running the estate and taking care of the up-keep. The house and gardens were opened in 1957 and 12 frescoed rooms with furnishing are visible.
Today the villa is used form exhibitions, social gatherings and cultural events or for location for shootings. The house the garden and many of the objects are protected by Italian law and cannot be altered, but the Italian State doesn't give money for its maintenance.