The splendour of Grosio’s Villa Visconti Venosta
Discover extraordinary characters and the region’s history at this fascinating villa-turned-museum
At the entrance to the town of Grosio right in the heart of its historic centre stands the Villa Visconti Venosta. For centuries, this grand building was the official summer residence of the aristocratic Visconti–Venosta family. It is built with a U-shaped structure: its Renaissance-era central body with a portico and loggia sits between two wings. The left wing is the older of the two, and was destroyed in a fire in 1620 before being renovated at the behest of the Jesuit Marcantonio Venosta at the end of the 17th century. The right wing has undergone various modifications over the years at the will of Marchese Emilio, an important family member, influential diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Italy. The Marchese Emilio was the one who acquired the land surrounding the villa and created what is now a vast public park, filled with centuries-old trees, a hawthorn hedge, and a high wall that granted privacy to the family when in residence.
These days the villa is home to the civic library
and a museum
, set up through donations from the Marchioness Margherita (the last remaining resident of the Visconti Venosta family, who lived in the Villa until 1982). The museum occupies the stately first floor, which had been inhabited by the marquises, as well as the second floor in the west wing, once reserved for the servants. The museum opens the archives with stunning period furniture, ancient volumes, heritage artefacts and mementoes from travels carried out over the generations, plus precious pieces of art that form part of the collection held by Emilio, Marquis Visconti-Venosta. The rooms of the palazzo are well furnished, featuring several renowned items including the armchair of Camillo Benso, the Count of Cavour, a close friend and political supporter of the Marquis Emilio, and a volume of French proverbs annotated by Alessando Manzoni.