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Villa Calvi

Via Roma,8, Cantù

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History and Architecture

Villa Calvi is a typical urban villa, located right in the historic centre and enjoying all of its amenities, together with those of the park in front. It was originally the residence of the Sola family. The Milanese Calvi family stayed there periodically over the course of the 19th century, until 1886 when Count Carlo Calvi sold the property. The garden was acquired (at the urging of the local Workers’ Club) with funds raised by about 120 residents of the city and opened to the public. The villa was apparently bought by the Orombelli family and subsequently donated to the municipality. The building consists of a fairly long linear block, much of which can be attributed to the early years of the 19th century, in sober forms whose original appearance can be identified only on the west front onto the garden, as the one onto the street has been altered by the juxtaposition of another block structured axially like the original solution but in a pretentious Fascist style. Thus the architraved portico that used to open in it is now just one part of the large internal atrium of the town hall. The original architecture of the villa is very simple, with a few references to neoclassical formal elements, but is totally free of the bombastic stylistic features of high-flown neoclassicism. The relationship between the central halls and the garden relies, as in many minor rural villas, simply on French windows, corresponding to an imperceptible overhang of the eaves in the median portion, which is also marked by a modest platform. At the sides of this stand two statues of lions, of considerable figurative force; they are not connected with the structure of the villa but in a way serve as axial and perspective focuses of the long façade. At the south end is set the conservatory, incorporated directly into the volume of the villa and thus diverging from the customary typological schemes of neoclassicism, in which the conservatory is generally given an independent form and is often physically detached from the villa proper: its presence, while revealed by a series of round arches, is in fact fairly well camouflaged; all the more so since on the floor above is located one of the original rooms, indeed one of the few to conserve in part the 19th-century structure (although not the decorations). In fact the internal layout has been greatly altered by its conversion into a town hall, with the creation of a grand staircase in the Fascist style next to the atrium (but outside the old portico) and an upper gallery that provides access to the various offices. Currently, the villa is used to host art exhibitions.

Hours of opening to the public

Visits are possible by arrangement and will be accompanied by a member of the staff of the Culture Department. For an appointment, send your request to the e-mail address: cultura@comune.cantu.co.it.