Palaces, manors and town halls in Italy

Villa Melzi d'Eril

Villa Melzi d’Eril was created as the summer residence of Francesco Melzi d’Eril, vice president of the Italian Republic that was founded by Napoleon in the early 1800s. Located in Bellagio, this vast complex is one of the most popular attractions among tourists who visit the Pearl of Lake Como. Unfortunately, Villa Melzi is not open to the public but you can visit its gardens, designed by architect Luigi Canonica an ...
Founded: 1808 | Location: Bellagio, Italy

Villa Manin

Villa Manin at Passariano was the residence of the last Doge of Venice, Ludovico Manin. Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine de Beauharnais lived there for about two months in 1797. Here were conducted many interviews for the signing of the treaty between France and Austria known as the Treaty of Campoformio (17 October 1797). Villa Manin is a monumental architectural complex built in the 16th century at the behest of the n ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Passariano, Italy

Villa Olmo

Villa Olmo is a great example of neoclassical architecture. Its construction started at the end of 18th century and was finished in 1812 by marquesses Odescalchi. It belonged to family Raimondi and Visconti di Modrone. In 1925 Como municipality decided to make it a place for cultural events and art exhibitions. Villa Olmo is definitely the most majestic villa at Como lake. It is composed of a huge park and many buildings. ...
Founded: 1797-1812 | Location: Como, Italy

Villa San Michele

The Villa San Michele was built around the turn of the 19th century on the Isle of Capri by the Swedish physician and author Axel Munthe. The villa"s gardens have panoramic views of the town of Capri and its harbour, the Sorrentine Peninsula, and Mount Vesuvius. The villa sits on a ledge at the top of the Phoenician Steps, between Anacapri and Capri, at a height of 327 meters above sea level. San Michel ...
Founded: 1885 | Location: Capri, Italy

Palazzo Estense

The Palazzo Estense is a Baroque palace built for the Francesco III d"Este and the House of Este in Varese. The palace was designed by architect Giuseppe Bianchi and was completed in 1760. It became the home, by purchase in 1765, of Francesco III d"Este, Duke of Modena who was also Austrian governor of Lombardy. Today, the palace houses the civic administration of the local municipal council and ...
Founded: 1760 | Location: Varese, Italy

Villa d'Este

The Villa d"Este, originally Villa del Garovo, is a Renaissance patrician residence in Cernobbio on the shores of Lake Como. Since 1873 the complex has been a luxury hotel. Gerardo Landriani, Bishop of Como (1437–1445), founded a female convent here at the mouth of the Garovo torrent in 1442. A century later Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio demolished the nunnery and commissioned Pellegrino Tibaldi to design a residence f ...
Founded: 1565-1570 | Location: Cernobbio, Italy

Villa La Rotonda

Villa La Rotonda is a Renaissance villa just outside Vicenza, designed by Andrea Palladio. Along with other works by Palladio, the building is conserved as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto'. In 1565 a priest, Paolo Almerico, on his retirement from the Vatican, decided to return to his home town of Vicenza and build a country house. Building began in 1567. Nei ...
Founded: 1567 | Location: Vicenza, Italy

Villa Palagonia

The Villa Palagonia is a patrician villa in Bagheria, 15 km from Palermo. The villa itself, built from 1715 by the architect Tommaso Napoli with the help of Agatino Daidone, is one of the earliest examples of Sicilian Baroque. However, its popularity comes mainly from the statues of monsters with human faces that decorate its garden and its wall, and earned it the nickname of 'The Villa of Monsters' (Villa dei M ...
Founded: 1715 | Location: Bagheria, Italy

Villa Floridiana

The Villa Floridiana dates from 1816 when Ferdinand I of the House of Bourbon, King of the Two Sicilies, acquired the property. Between 1817 and 1819 the architect Antonio Niccolini reconstructed the building and the surrounding gardens. The director of the Botanical Gardens, Friedrich Dehnhardt, planted oaks, pines, palms, cypresses and a large selection of flowers in the gardens. The King then donated the prope ...
Founded: 1816 | Location: Naples, Italy

Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini

The Villa Durazzo-Pallavicini is a villa with notable 19th-century park in the English romantic style and a small botanical garden. The park and botanical garden are open daily. The estate was begun in the late 17th century by Clelia Durazzo Grimaldi, who established the Giardino botanico Clelia Durazzo Grimaldi at that time. Today"s remarkable park was created by her nephew Ignazio Alessandro Pallavicini after ...
Founded: 1840 | Location: Genoa, Italy

Palazzo del Monte di Pietà

Palazzo del Monte di Pietà was built in 1616 for the Arciconfraternita degli Azzurri. The building was modified in 1741 with the addition of a first floor, a bell tower and a staircase. These were built to designs of the architect Antonino Basile. A fountain decorated with a statue of Abundance was built in the middle of the staircase. The structure was damaged during the earthquake of 1783 and that of 1908. The buildin ...
Founded: 1616 | Location: Messina, Italy

Villa Erba

Villa Erba is a 19th-century villa in Cernobbio, on the shores of Lake Como. It was built by Luigi Erba, brother of the prominent businessman Carlo Erba (founder of the first Italian pharmaceutical company), to show off his wealth. After the death of Luigi Erba, the villa was inherited by his daughter Carla and was used by members of Carla"s family, including her son Luchino Visconti. In 1986, it was bought by a pub ...
Founded: 1898-1901 | Location: Cernobbio, Italy

Palazzo Salis

The Palazzo Salis is situated in the heart of the historic centre of Tirano, a small town in the valley Valtellina. The building got constructed during the second half of the 17th century by the noble family von Salis-Zizers, a branch of the important and well known grison family von Salis. The palace was erected in the 1490s by Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. The start of the construction is dedicated to Giovanni S ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Tirano, Italy

Villa Barbaro

Villa Barbaro, also known as the Villa di Maser, was designed and built by the Italian architect Andrea Palladio, with frescos by Paolo Veronese and sculptures by Alessandro Vittoria for Daniele Barbaro. The villa was probably built between 1558 and 1570. After the Barbaro family died out, the villa passed through the female line into the ownership of the Trevisan and then the Basadonna families, followed by the Manin. L ...
Founded: 1558-1570 | Location: Maser, Italy

Mackenzie Castle

The Mackenzie Castle is a historical manor in the Castelletto quarter of Genoa. It is an example of Gothic Revival architecture. The castle was built on a pre-existing country villa, in turn located on the site of the 16th century Genoese walls. Built in 1893-1905, it was designed in Gothic revival style by Art Nouveau architect Gino Coppedè under commission by Evan Mackenzie, an insurance broker, whose family liv ...
Founded: 1893 | Location: Genoa, Italy

Isola del Garda

The Garda Island is at present owned by the Cavazza family. 130 Gallic-Roman tombstones found on the island prove the inhabitance of it during Roman times. Abandoned to its own ends during the centuries of the decline of the Roman Empire, it became a game reserve at the end of 879. he first historical mention can be found in a decree by Carloman in 879 which documented the donation of the island to the monks of San Zeno o ...
Founded: | Location: San Felice del Benaco, Italy

Villa Foscari

Villa Foscari is designed by the Italian architect Andrea Palladio. It is also known as La Malcontenta, a nickname which it received when the spouse of one of the Foscaris was locked up in the house because she allegedly didn't live up to her conjugal duty. The villa was commissioned by the brothers Nicolo and Luigi Foscari, members of a patrician Venetian family that produced Francesco Foscari, one of Venice's most note ...
Founded: 1558-1560 | Location: Mira, Italy

Villa Emo

Villa Emo was designed by Andrea Palladio in 1559 for the Emo family of Venice and remained in the hands of the Emo family until it was sold in 2004. The building was the culmination of a long-lasting project of the patrician Emo family of the Republic of Venice to develop its estates at Fanzolo.  Since 1996, it has been conserved as part of the World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the V ...
Founded: 1559 | Location: Fanzolo, Italy

Villa Widmann

The Villa Widmann-Foscari is located at the shores of the river Brenta located in the small town of Mira, between Venice and Padua. The present palace was built in the 18th century; a succession of families including the Scerimann, Donà, Foscari, had previously owned the site. The present villa was apparently designed and built in 1719 by Alessandro Tirali, a Venetian architect. The Widmanns commissioned the int ...
Founded: 1719 | Location: Mira, Italy

Villa Badoer

Villa Badoer was designed in 1556 by Andrea Palladio for the Venetian noble Francesco Badoer, and built between 1557 and 1563, on the site of a medieval castle which guarded a bridge across a navigable canal. This was the first time Palladio used his fully developed temple pediment in the facade of a villa. Villa Badoer has been part since 1996 of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Vil ...
Founded: 1556-1563 | Location: Fratta Polesine, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Cesis Castle

German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.

In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).

In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.

Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.