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The secret charm of Italy’s historic residences: A heritage preserved amidst art, history and wonder


Italy, a dreamy peninsula where art, history and beauty meet, boasts the supremacy of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Our “Bel Paese” has something like 36,000 historical residences, including palaces, castles and villas.

Most of them are owned by wealthy entrepreneurs, who hand down ownership from father to son.

The interesting feature is that they are almost all located in hamlets and areas with fewer than five thousand inhabitants.

Veneto region is undoubtedly the area with the most private historic properties. Still, cities such as Florence, Rome, Naples, Lecce, and Palermo also have many properties.

In Campania, we can appreciate the Aragonese Castle of Ischia, which holds the signs of all past civilisations in the region, starting with the Greeks and Romans, passing through the Aragonese dynasty and ending with the Colonna family. The castle now belongs to the third generation of the Mattera family, who animate it with art exhibitions admired by thousands of tourists annually.

One of Italy’s most beautiful private monumental complexes is located in the municipality of Chignolo Po, in the province of Pavia. The famous engraver Marc’Antonio Dal Re called it the ‘Versailles of Lombardy’ in 1700 for its gardens, which imitated the style of the French royal palace.

“Inside the monumental complex, the noble halls frescoed by the school of Tiepolo stand out, while outside, the structure is enriched by the Teatro delle Uccelliere, a small loggia where the nobles would gather to drink tea in spring”. This is what lawyer Federico Procaccini, owner of the residence, said. “The central part is used as a private residence, while the basement houses the Lombard wine museum, where a 16th-century wine press with gears designed by Leonardo da Vinci is on display”, Procaccini concludes.

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