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 for his own use. The Villa del Garovo, together with its luxuriant gardens, was constructed during the years 1565–70 and during the cardinal’s lifetime it became a resort of politicians, intellectuals and ecclesiastics.
On Gallio’s death the villa passed to his family who, over the years, allowed it to sink into a state of some decay. From 1749 to 1769 it was a Jesuit centre for spiritual exercises, after which it was acquired first by Count Mario Odescalchi and then in 1778 by a Count Marliani. In 1784 it passed to the Milanese Calderari family who undertook a major restoration project and created a new park all’Italiana with an impressive nymphaeum and a temple displaying a seventeenth-century statue of Hercules hurling Lichas into the sea.
After the death of Marquis Calderari his wife Vittoria Peluso, a former ballerina at La Scala and known as la Pelusina, married a Napoleonic general, Count Domenico Pino and a mock fortress was erected in the park in his honour.
In 1815 it became the residence of Caroline of Brunswick, estranged wife of future King George IV.
It was converted into a deluxe hotel for the nobility and the high bourgeoisie in 1873, and kept the name Villa d'Este to take advantage of the apparent link with the famous Villa d'Este in Tivoli, near Rome.
A gala dinner held at the Villa d’Este in 1948 was the scene for the celebrated murder of the wealthy silk manufacturer Carlo Sacchi, shot dead by his lover Countess Pia Bellentani with her husband’s Fegyverzyar automatic pistol.References:
Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, with a modicum of Renaissance detail. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sacked by the Swedish army (1643).
It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family charged architect Filiberto Lucchese with renovating the palace in a Baroque style. The chief monument of Lucchese's work in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle. Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.
After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, arrived at the residence in order to decorate the halls of the palace with their works. In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses an art collection, generally considered the second finest in the country, which includes Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas. The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673. The palace also contains an outstanding musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.
UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.
Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.