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 of Verona. Around 1220 St. Francis of Assisi visited many areas of northern Italy including Lake Garda, which in ancient times was called Benàco, on his return from the Orient through Albania and Dalmatia.
St.Francis believed it to be an ideal place for his monks as it was so far from the world and made a simple hermitage in the rocky part to the north. The island became an important ecclesiastic centre for meditation which hosted illustrious religious personalities, such as father Francesco Licheto from the noble Lechi family from Brescia, who in 1470 instituted a theology and philosophy school on the island.
The death of Father Francesco Licheto marked the beginning of a period of decadence for the religious community of the island. From 1685 to 1697 it was a convent for novices where the monks went into retreat.
In 1797 the the monastery was suppressed definitively by Napoleon and it later became the property of the state and in the following years had various owners including Count Luigi Lechi from Brescia (1817). Luigi Lechi ordered important restoration and construction work to then pass it on twenty years later to his brother Teodoro, ex general of the Napoleonic army, who made further alterations with the added to the terraces on the front of the villa. In 1860 it was dispossessed by the State and given to the army. The idea to build a fortress was though abandoned and was sold at auction; the property was awarded to Baron Scotti who sold it to Duke Gaetano de Ferrari of Genoa and his wife, the Russian Archduchess, Maria Annenkoff. Between 1880 and 1900 the new owners dedicated their time to planning and realizing the park, building containment walls towards the lake and importing fertile earth and exotic plants. The palace was enriched by Italian garden terraces with elaborately designed hedges and flowering bushes. Before the Duke’s death in 1893, the two of them together conceived the project of a palace to be built on the site of the old Lechi villa. The villa in Neogothic-Venetian was built between 1890 and 1903, on the project by architect Luigi Rovelli.
The extremely complex building has its own stylistic unity and a rare stateliness. The façades are decorated by acutely arched windows and in the south-west corner stands a tower crowned with crenellation in stone with flowered neo-gothic style decorations. After the death of the Archduchess, the island passed in inheritance to her daughter Anna Maria, wife of Prince Scipione Borghese of Rome. Anna Maria loved the island very much and made it her home until the end of her life, taking care of the park and the family memories.
In 1927, on the death of the Prince, the Island passed down to her daughter Livia, married to Count Alessandro Cavazza of Bologna who kept it in an excellent state to leave it to his son Camillo who in turn left it to his wife Charlotte and their seven children. Today they continue to passionately look after the park and the palace where they live.References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.