Villa Reale is in Via Palestro, opposite the Indro Montanelli gardens.
A visit to the Villa offers many surprises. It is one of the most important Neoclassical monuments of the city, and at present it hosts the Museo dell’Ottocento (19th century museum), also known as the Galleria di Arte Moderna.
The main entrance on the street side leads into the main court, from where you can enter the Galleria d’Arte Moderna. In this, one of the finest public art collections in Italy, there are many frescoes, sculptures, furniture pieces and chandeliers in interiors that exemplify aristocratic residences in Lombardy during the Neoclassical age, and with paintings that provide an accurate portrait of the history of art in this period. Significant works comprise “Portrait of Alessandro Manzoni” by Francesco Hayez, the “Two Mothers” by Giovanni Segantini, and Giorgio Morandi’s still life paintings. There are also works illustrating experimental Divisionist techniques by Previati and De Dragon.
After having visited Villa Reale, there are two possible options. The PAC (Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, contemporary art pavilion), which is directly adjacent to the internal court of Villa Reale, presents contemporary art exhibitions. Alternatively, you can leave the Villa and enter its gardens through the gate to the left of the main building. The monumental façade of the Villa forms a magnificent backdrop for the gardens, which, with its lakes, streams and works of art, was one of the first examples of landscaped gardens in Italy, designed by the architect who created the Villa, Leopoldo Pollack. Counts Belgioioso and Ercole Silva were also personally involved in the garden’s design, from 1790 to 1793.
Anecdotes and curiosities
Villa Reale, or Villa Belgiojoso, was commissioned from architect Leopoldo Pollack by Ludovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, and it was built from 1790 to 1796. It was Napoleon Bonaparte’s Milan residence, and later the home of Viceroy Eugenio Beauharnais.
The gardens of Villa Reale in the Monza park, designed by Piermarini, were laid out on the model of those at Villa Reale.
Marshal Radetzky lived in the Villa in 1857-1858, and died there.
Not to lost
The Grassi collection was donated to the Municipality by Carlo and Nedda Grassi in memory of their son who died in Africa.
It comprises ceramics, sculptures, textiles and antique carpets, as well as an important group of 19th century French and Italian paintings by artists including Cézanne, Renoir, Van Gogh, Manet, Fontanesi and Piccio, and by some 20th century painters such as Balla and Boccioni.
The Vismara collection comprises works by French painters, including Matisse, and paintings by Picasso and Italian artists working in the Novecento style.
Don’t miss the open-air performances held in the Villa on the side facing the garden.
The Villa can be reached using Metro line 1, Palestro station, or buses from Piazza Cavour.