Villa Comboni

The Dolce Vita in Toscolano Maderno

by Lavinia Colonna Preti
The Dolce Vita of Villa Comboni — Lombardia Secrets

When you think of Lake Garda, your imagination can only lead you back to its magnificent villas and palaces overlooking the water, built by the nobles of the past to enjoy the Dolce Vita of the Gardesana Riviera, especially in that stretch of the coast from Salò to Gargnano, one of the first areas in the world to develop a tourist vocation at the end of the 19th century, when “tourism” was still a pioneering hobby.

Among the sites of greatest historical and cultural interest, overlooking the small port of Toscolano Maderno, there is certainly Villa Fiorini Comboni. Unique for being inspired by the Venetian neoclassical school, and not by the Lombard one, the building is famous above all for the great sense aesthetic of the various owners who have succeeded each other over time and who have therefore allowed the extraordinary conservation of its original decorations to which in 250 years of history have been added furniture and objects of great refinement.

The Dolce Vita of Villa Comboni — Lombardia Secrets
The Dolce Vita of Villa Comboni — Lombardia Secrets

A villa in which the original eighteenth-century decoration is combined with unique objects from all over the world that give life to charming environments, at times pleasantly surreal.

Built in 1770 by the Venetian Counts de Comincioli, during the 19th century the Palace passed to the baronesses Zakrescki from Odessa, who here led an expensive life as socialites, squandering a fortune in gambling and parties, and was then bought by the family of Andrea Fiorini. His daughter married a Comboni and their son Giuseppe with his wife Maria Rosa, great lovers of antiques, began to enrich the villa with precious ornaments, a passion also transmitted to their descendants.

The original decor from the late 1700s demonstrates the opulence, but also the avant-garde with which the de Comincioli had the villa embellished. Starting from the frescoes, allegory of Greek myths, by the Galliari Brothers, highly sought-after scenographers of the Teatro Regio in Turin and also authors of the set design with which inaugurated the Teatro la Scala in 1778, but also from the precious and original Venetian floor in red terracotta mixed with wax.
Details that are combined with statement pieces of great effect such as the white sofa by Valentino Maison in the central lounge or the Rubelli silk fabrics that add a fine touch the period furniture in the dining room.

The Dolce Vita of Villa Comboni — Lombardia Secrets

In the small sitting room with fake grillage on the walls, the allegorical figures such as the monkey and the cat are combined with pleasantly surreal objects such as the papier-mâché ram ​​purchased in Venice, the coffee table and magazine rack by Kartell or the busts of Napoleon and Marie Antoinette by Cire Trudon’s, the oldest candle maker in the world. The cultured and attentive eye will notice, in fact, that every color and object is approached with great irony and knowledge of history. Like the silver fox by Asprey London put next to the English ceramic beagle or the wooden lobster purchased at a Budapest market, a tribute to Dalì’s surrealism.

Every corner of the villa tells us the intense story that it went through almost unscathed, such as the writing on the wall left in one of the bedrooms by a general of Napoleon (this is the reason for the presence of his turquoise bust) to the stories about the Republic of Salò which, during the Second World War, here created the headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior.

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