As I have said in a previous post, Milan is a city that keeps its beauty hidden.
Some of the most important attractions in the city are undoubtedly quite visible. For example, if you go to the city center, you can’t miss the Duomo even if you try to: if you get off at Duomo metro station, you will see it from every exit you decide to take.
But many other interesting places need some dedication to be found. As I have written for the amazing Atellani House, where you can visit Leonardo’s Vineyard, many incredible places are hidden behind the very serious and sometimes unimposing facade of a grey building.
Villa Necchi Campiglio seen from the garden
If you are willing to discover what is hidden behind those walls, you’ll be amazed at what you can experience. This is exactly what I felt when I visited Villa Necchi Campiglio, a villa in the very center of Milan I had been meaning to see for ages but somehow never managed to.
Villa Necchi Campiglio is in the neighborhood of Porta Venezia, a very elegant and quiet residential area in the very center of the city but away from the hustle and bustle of many other neighborhoods in the city. It’s where you can see a garden with flamingoes or where a building has ears, as you may read in my post about Milan.
the beautiful veranda and orangery
When you get to the villa, you only see a wall that surrounds what seems to be a very luscious garden but nothing gives off the magnificence that is hidden inside. Behind that wall, there is a big garden with a tennis court and a pool – the first private pool in the city of Milan – and a 1930s villa with the most incredible veranda.
I have visited the villa – it is now property of the FAI, the organization that takes care of maintaining some important monuments and private buildings in Italy, and can be visited with a guided tour only – and I can assure you that all the people that were with me were constantly looking around in awe, their mouths wide open. Myself included, of course.
a view of the grand salon
Completed in 1935 and entirely designed by Pietro Portaluppi, the most famous Milanese architect in the 1920s and 1930s, Villa Necchi Campiglio was the home of a very wealthy family: the Necchi sisters, Gigina and Nedda, who owned a very famous sewing machine company, and Angelo Campiglio, husband of Gigina, who owned a cast-iron factory.
The couple never had children, so the only three of them lived in the house. They loved having guests, though, and many of them were very important personalities of the time. They were close friends with Princess Maria Gabriella di Savoia, who had its own private room in the house.
the owners of the house
The Necchi Campiglio wanted a very elegant house and all the most precious materials were used to decorate every corner. The house was undoubtedly elegant and luxurious but very modern too. In fact, it has some very advanced features for its time, like elevators, intercoms, and sliding armored doors.
The style is art decò and rationalist and the structure of the house is very traditional: the ground floor was dedicated to social life and entertaining, therefore you can find there the dining room, the smoking room, the library, the grand salon, and the beautiful veranda and orangery.
a corner of one bedroom
On the first floor, you can find the private bedrooms and bathrooms – the closets are still full of the original clothes of the Necchi sisters, some of which are on display – and all the rooms for the guests. In the basement, instead, there was the kitchen, the service rooms, as well as changing rooms and bathrooms for the pool. Under the roof, there were all the rooms for the staff – minus the wardrobe lady, who was allowed to sleep on the first floor and was on duty 24/7.
The house was gifted to the FAI by Gigina Necchi, who died in 2001, and still has all its original furniture. In addition, over the years, many works of art have been donated to the FAI and are now on display on the walls of the house. So, while visiting the place, you may casually take a quick look at a painting while passing by and find out that it’s a Picasso.
the entrance of the house seen from the garden
Visiting this house has been a dream of mine for a long time and I wasn’t disappointed at all. On the contrary, I was amazed at its pure beauty. I am sure that, if you like interior design, 1930s house or simply beautiful places, you’ll love it as much as I did. Sometimes, while visiting it, you might also have the impression of having already seen the place: you might have, if you have seen Luca Guadagnino’s movie Io sono l’amore (I am love), which was shot here.
As a matter of fact, you can also get married in the house, if you want, or rent it for your private party – wouldn’t it be amazing?[If you want to get a better idea of the house, you can take a look at this video].
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If you sign up to Giorno dopo giorno, you will receive an email every other day for 365 days. Each email will contain a prompt, a little exercise, something to watch, read, listen, or something that will gently force you to practice your Italian every day, making it part of your daily routine.