Villa Gastel, once called Villa Nuova, is part of the Villa Erba complex and the oldest building of the same. Nowadays it is the private residence of the Gastel family, heir of the Erba family, who uses it as a holiday house; in the stables there is a B&B.
The structure has partly maintained the original one of the convent on which it was built: the plan is square and develops around an internal cloister, while the facades have been enriched with decorations in neoclassical style. The interior is rich in decorations, including frescoes, portraits, statues, tapestries, and enriched by some collections of objects, such as ceramics and toy soldiers. In addition to the main building were built an accommodation for service staff, two residences for guests, stables, an amphitheater and a swimming pool, built in early 1900.
The Villa is immersed in a lush garden that has maintained in part the original English style.
The monastery on whose foundations stands the villa has ancient origins, around year 1.000. Suppressed in 1784, it was acquired by Vittoria Calderara, a noblewoman who transformed the property into an aristocratic villa with an English garden. The house was called "New" to emphasize the great restructuring that transformed the property so as to make it seem, in fact, of new construction. Inherited by her grandchildren, part of the Cima della Scala family, it was then sold by Vittoria Cima to the Erba family. After that, Mrs. Cima spent long periods of vacation in a small villa on the Villa d'Este property, which still bears her name.
The Erba family, founder of the first Italian pharmaceutical company, felt that the house was too modest for their needs, so they commissioned the construction of what we know today as Villa Erba.
Villa Gastel has always been a salon for artists, writers and intellectuals, including Verdi, Lassalle, Verga, and, until the '40s, an area of the villa was given to a community of nuns who organized sewing classes, with the support of Carla Erba, who worked with architects Ponti and Lancia to develop designs to be used as models for embroidery.
The property was later owned by the Erba heirs, including the famous director Luchino Visconti, son of Carla Erba and Duke Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone, who retired there to finish his film Ludwig. He set up an editing room in the stables and hosted prestigious guests, such as Maria Callas and Coco Chanel.
Today the Villa is a private residence.
Largo Luchino Visconti, 822012Cernobbio (CO) Italy