The Villa was built in the second half of eighteenth century by Simone Cantoni and enlarged first by Gianbattista Mellerio, a figure of great economic faculties, and in 1815, by the architect Gian Luca della Somaglia. It’s an imposing neoclassical complex, in a panoramic position over the Lambro Valley, composed by numerous buildings that give life to large courtyards on which the belvedere tower stands out.
In fact, over the Gernetto hill, in the 5th-6th century, was built a fortress with a tower to defend the Lambo Valley where the populations fleeing to found refuge from Milan, often sacked by barbarians. As evidence of this, in 1818 was found inside the park a deposit of 273 Roman gold coins from the late imperial period.
Built on the site of a possible Roman settlement and probably subsequent convent, Villa Gernetto was purchased in the early seventeenth century by the Molinari Marquises who transformed the original fortified nucleus into a holiday house. Then, in the eighteenth century the Villa became the Mellerio family’s property.
In 1815 the architect Gian Luca della Somaglia built the courtyard, the internal chapel dedicated to S. Carlo and the bridge in the park. He is also responsible for the arrangement of the terraced garden facing to the town. The garden of the Villa was already considered by the chronicles and by the guides of the time, one of the greatest wonders of the genre due to the richness of the design and the rarity of the essences contained. It’s partly arranged ‘in the Italian style’ with geometric terracing connected by stairways while a portion is occupied by a wide landscaped park with adjoining wooded areas.
The Villa Gernetto was one of the most celebrated of the early 1800s and among the most coveted for the sumptuous receptions given by Count Giacomo Mellerio, vice president of the Lombard-Veneto government in 1816. At that time the Villa must have been very rich even in the interior, both in furniture and decorations, as evidenced by the presence in the private chapel of two funeral bas-reliefs sculpted by Canova, as well as other sculptures by Fabris.
In 1975 the complex was purchased by the Credito Italiano who transformed it into a training center for its staff, also annexing the old complex of stables and barns adjacent to the Villa. Later the property became Pirelli & C. Real Estate. In 2007, it was purchased by Silvio Berlusconi’s company Fininvest Sviluppi Immobiliari S.p.A, which in Aprile 2008 started the restoration work by the architecture firm Magnano & Partners of Macherio.
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