Culture by Nature

Cuore verde tra due laghi
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Cuore verde tra due laghi

Villa Giulia

Verbania Pallanza

Bernardino Branca’s son dedicated this residence to his wife Giulia (Julia) and began construction to beautify and enlarge it, hoping to extend the property towards the lake. In 1879, however, the structure collapsed disastrously, dragging even the stately staircase with it into the lake. Today, the remains still surface during periods of drought when the lake is shallower.

In the meantime, the refurbishment project had been entrusted to the architect Pirovano from Milan; he constructed the grandiose entry railings, the dock with its terrace and large pergola, a garden, and some artificial caves. A chalet used as a caretaker’s lodge was constructed near the gate. It was later transformed into a billiards rooms. The garden was remodeled in the English style. Finally, the Villa was remodeled: the façade facing the lake was embellished with galleries and columns on every floor, culminating in a grant terrace. Such elegance contrasts sharply with the façade facing the road, which is characterized by an austere sobriety.

In 1904 Julia decided to further expand the villa and introduced Art Nouveau decorations, which were in style at the time.

About thirty years later the Azienda Autonoma di Cura, Soggiorno, e Turismo (Independent Agency of Safekeeping [of historical and natural spaces], Travel, and Tourism) acquired the Giulia Villa with the intention of endowing Pallanza with a Municipal Casino and a more well-structured guest house. The Giulia Villa thus became the Kursaal, modernized in 155 with the addition of two enormous rooms: the first in the basement was accessible from the garden and the second, designed to host lectures, exhibitions, and concerts, was located on the first floor. Even the dock was sacrificed to allow for new usage possibilities; this intervention involved the destruction of the artificial caves and rendered the dock impassible during periods when the lake rises.

In 1987 the Villa property passed to the City of Verbania and, after recent restorations, reopened its doors to the public on May 24, 2009, hosting a mass exhibition called Flower Power. This exhibition represented the first stage of the new three-year scheduling project of the CRAA – Centro Ricerca Arte Attuale (Modern Art Research Center).

The Giulia Villa also hosts conventions, concerns, and cultural events; its garden is used as a public park.

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